An Intimate Death Sentence


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Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Jeremy Blair

Second Advisor

Monique Haley


To conclude my experience at Western Michigan University, I created a Graduating Presentation based on research of the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. Because this occurred over the course of several years, rather than one singular incident, I approached this topic from a broad point of view, studying how the queer community was stigmatized and dehumanized from our mainstream society. Stylistically, I used costuming, music, and social dances authentic to the LGBT+ community in this time period, referencing pop culture to give a sense of nostalgia to the audience.

When the first few cases of HIV+ patients arose, no one knew why seemingly healthy people were becoming ill so suddenly, how the disease was being spread, or even what the disease exactly entailed. This uncertainty led to panic and a constant feeling of being on edge. The few initial cases seemed to erupt into an epidemic all at once and people were dying quickly and without known cause. In my generation of movement, I created material that conveyed the feeling of panic and communicated the sense of how those who were affected felt as though they were losing control over their own body.

Choreographically, I challenged myself to use more athletic movement in this piece than what I tend to be drawn to. I believe that a topic of this weight requires major changes in dynamic, both in the tones of the varying sections as well as in the quality of the movement. Using my technical background and attention to detail, I created a culmination of both expansive and intricate material that involved my dancers as a full-cast group, as well as a featured soloist who symbolized the lens from which the piece was viewed.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

GPfinalessay.pdf (237 kB)

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