Cultivating Compassion: Humanizing Legal Rhetoric Through Dance Performance

Political science and dance major Brynn Bodair ’19 was inspired to combine her passion for both disciplines into her senior thesis, which explores the intersection of gender, law, and movement. Specifically, she employs dance and movement theory to examine Supreme Court doctrine on gender equality and the landmark Frontiero v. Richardson case.

“As I researched this case, I found myself intrigued by the court’s discussion in which they apply gender to a three-part test examining history of oppression,  political powerlessness, and immutability,” said Bodair. “This discussion immediately ignited my brain to imagine the application of this test, both historically and currently, to gender and the potential to craft that on stage.”

Gender and the Law and Constitutional Law courses sparked Bodair’s desire to take a deeper look into the role of the female body in dance and law. Bodair’s thesis evolved out of this into a written and physical expression of women using movement and the law to obtain individual and societal empowerment.

“Through dance I am able to showcase an alternative mode of communicating rhetoric that is political, legal, or uncommon to the general public’s vernacular,” said Bodair.

Bodair presented her in-progress research in January at the National Collegiate Research Conference at Harvard. Her thesis was also accepted to be presented at the Western Political Science Association’s National Conference in April in San Diego, and her culminating piece was performed at the Strub Theater on April 6th. Following graduation, Bodair will attend Southwestern School of Law, Loyola Law, or USC Gould School of Law. She also plans to continue performing and creating both dance and film, as well as discovering commonalities between political science and dance. 

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