Entering the Bal: Strategies of Adoption in a North American Elective Folk-Dance Community
This thesis argues that embodied experiences are the core of Balfolk. Sensations of connectivity, community, and joy are created through engagement with a distinctive, inclusive, and participatory dance repertoire. In these communities, the act of dancing is not only the focus of events, but more profoundly it is the mechanism which assimilates newcomers, trains musicians, and curates intimate and energetic memories which in turn facilitate retention. Balfolk in North America is my analytical case study, and it reveals physical, psychological, and emotional rewards arising from the accessibility and participatory nature of dancing communities. The methodology for this thesis includes data collection techniques from anthropology, ethnography, dance and music studies, and cognition. Analytical perspectives from these source disciplines inform my interpretation of the physical, cognitive, and emotional experiences of Balfolk communities. This interdisciplinary approach is essential, enabling a thorough and multi-faceted investigation of the experiential data. This document likewise provides methodological models, supporting the integration of discipline-specific tools to capture more sophisticated and multi-valent data and therefore more accurately understand Balfolk communities.