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Date Submitted

Spring 4-20-2015

Research Mentor and Department

David Marchant




Selves Portrait: a senior thesis portraying schizophrenia through dance

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects approximately 1% of the human population. This disorder is incredibly complicated, and much more research is needed for it to be fully understood. There are many diverse symptoms that can be associated with schizophrenia, and they can be present in different forms and combinations. It is important that we work not only to understand the mechanisms underlying this disorder but also to be compassionate and understanding of the reality experienced by those who suffer from schizophrenia.

Selves Portrait is a senior dance thesis production that attempts to portray the experience of one individual’s presentation of schizophrenia. Based on real instances of the disorder, the production allows viewers to follow a schizophrenic woman as she interacts with her disordered mind, treatment, and altered reality.

This production aims to offer audiences a more in-depth understanding of schizophrenia than could be gained from textbooks or articles. Besides learning about the facts of mental disorders, it is important that we are aware of the presence of mental illness around us and the struggle endured by countless numbers of our fellow humans. The goal of Selves Portrait is to remind viewers of how much mental health matters. In addition, audiences will come away with a better understanding of the experiences of those people who suffer from schizophrenia.

Selves Portrait provides an example of research into abnormal psychology through movement. Factual research became the foundation of the production, but this information was then transferred onto the bodies of seven experienced dancers. This senior thesis goes beyond written research and uses artistic interpretations to transfer knowledge from words to dance, and on to the minds of its audience members.

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