Dancing from the inside out : using design thinking to explore the intersections of street dance, social media, and self-identity in Aotearoa : an exegesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Design, Massey University, College of Creative Arts, Wellington, New Zealand
Street dance, derived from hip hop dance, is a vehicle for self-expression,
connecting with others, understanding purpose, promoting confidence,
challenging and improving oneself, and positively impacting participants’ lives
(Henderson, 2010). Beyond a form of physical activity, it holds much potential to
Since the advent of YouTube in 2005, social media platforms—particularly
YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—have become central to street
dance culture’s production and consumption. These networked mediascapes
have increased the culture’s visibility, accessibility, participation, and provided
a platform to share dance expression, join the international street dance
community, as well as access or even create professional opportunities. The way
street dance cultural flows circulate through social networking sites recursively
shape and inform the culture itself.
Dancing from the Inside Out uses design thinking methods to investigate how
engagement with street dance culture in networked spaces—where self-identity
is performed, actively constructed, and negotiated—might impact an individual’s
relationship with street dance. Following empathy research, the project uses the
Māori health and wellness model Te Whare Tapa Whā as an analytical framework,
and identifies an opportunity to strengthen one’s taha wairua, or spiritual
wellbeing, concerning ideas around self-expression and understanding identity.
These concepts are at the heart of street dance culture and promote identity
development, though risk being overridden by emerging cultural practices that
digitally networked spaces have shaped.
The project’s design response takes the form of Hikoi (Māori term meaning
to step, stride, march)—the initiation of a movement starting in online social
networking environments, in pursuit of the heart and soul of street dance. A
practice-based design investigation, Hikoi movement builds a narrative across
Facebook and Instagram, and using video portraits, blog posts, and still images,
that adhere to a manifesto, aims to inform and inspire Aotearoa street dancers
about strengthening taha wairua, in the age of social media.