This study explores the positioning of folkloric dance (kolo) as a manifestation of a holistic way of being. The purpose of my inquiry is to develop practice-based understandings for participation in cultural activities as a process for holistic development of a person within community and its extension within societies. I exclusively focus on how cultural activities, particularly dancing in kolo, impacts the people who are engaged in the practice. My dissertation explores my engagement with folkloric dance, specifically in relation to holistic learning. I discuss this topic through four intertwining themes: the development of the whole person; the pedagogy of ceremony, particularly acquiring traditional knowledge; the role of folkloric dance in holistic development; and the relation of engagement in cultural activities with identity formation and spiritual attentiveness. The exploration of these themes guided me towards an inquiry into the profound reasons we engage in cultural activities, particularly why we dance. I build upon hermeneutic, mythopoetic, arts-based research to offer forward an understanding of what it means to learn holistically and even further, how we acquire knowledge necessary for being and becoming in the world. My relationship with Serbian and Balkan knowledge traditions and communities centres my inquiry into cultural practices. I propose that traditional knowledge is acquired through cultural activities, specifically dancing in kolo and holding hands. Integral to this dissertation are the stories that I collected from eight knowledge holders. These scholars, educators, musicians, and dancers have profoundly enriched my inquiry and understanding. I share their stories as a collection of pedagogical teachings that clearly indicates the profound impact of these cultural practices towards the transformation of our humanness. I envision The Reason We Dance as an inspiration for my readers to explore their own engagement in cultural activities while observing the multiple ways these engagements impact them.
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Thesis advisor: Kelly, Vicki
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