Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Tanya Pollard

Subject Categories

Dance | Physiology


Biography; Choreography; Disability; Downtown Dance; Transference; Yvonne Meier


What is ability? And conversely, what is disability? This research on the dancer and choreographer Yvonne Meier theorizes that her more than 30-year career has challenged the oft perceived polarities between function and dysfunction, utility and futility through the physical actions of dance performances. As she developed as a dancer and choreographer, Meier engaged in forms of movement training that pledged to expand her ability by unearthing the hidden causes and effects of actions. And yet, she created works which foregrounded the very gaps in knowledge between acts, their intentions, and effects. The fundamental disability expressed through Meier's works is the condition of having a body. Bodies determine the limits of perspective, barring the living from ever really seeing much of any act, or its ramifications. As embodiment itself disables humans from understanding the true scope of the reasons and consequences of actions, all further arguments can only tentatively define apart 'ability' and 'disability.' And so, this thesis explores the deeply incomplete nature of perspective as the fundamental disability explored in Meier's works, and primarily does so by examining her incomplete records, many of which were damaged in a flood caused by Hurricane Sandy. In it, what could be salvaged from Meier's personal archive of videos, written scores, and notes on pieces is cross-referenced with interviews the author conducted with Meier and her collaborators. A small quantity of published reviews, essays, and interviews have also been referenced. This research also draws, both directly and indirectly, from related works of theory that address the utility of action, embodiment, and artistic process. Researching Meier, like performing for her, is a process subjected to the disabled perspective of the body, which cannot take one back in time to witness all which here has been recorded from remnants and memories.