Theatre & Dance ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-15-2017


Can daily practice in flamenco training help mediate the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on the brain and body? This thesis focuses on the inner-workings of the brain and how it processes stress and trauma. This is discussed through the idea of the Fear Circuit, which is a habitual response to reminders of the original trauma; the review of a current therapy for PTSD patients-Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR); the theory that throwing (skill in speed and precision –based throwing activities), music, and dance can all work to increase strength in areas of the brain that atrophy under post-traumatic stress; and by approaching the creation of a traditional flamenco choreography through the lens of EMDR and a throwing and reward-based system, to investigate further the similarities between these activities. I identified aspects of flamenco within my own body and my own community that could be mediators of PTSD symptoms when practiced on a regular basis, while acknowledging that flamenco is not usually approached in this way, nor was it developed for this purpose. The purpose of this research is to propose that flamenco holds within it specific neurological, biological, and communal functions that make it uniquely effective in helping to maintain functionality and improve the quality of life of individuals, families, and communities suffering from PTSD. This is argued through a discussion of brain functionality as it pertains to PTSD; through theories of the transmission of memory; through a review of EMDR and its comparison to flamenco; through a discussion on the effects of throwing and sequencing on the brain, especially when coupled with reward, and through my own bodily investigation of all of these components as they relate to daily flamenco practice and flamenco performance and its effect on the symptoms of PTSD.

Degree Name

Theatre & Dance

Level of Degree


Department Name

Theatre & Dance

First Committee Member (Chair)

Mary Anne Santos Newhall

Second Committee Member

Eva Encinias

Third Committee Member

Marisol Encinias

Fourth Committee Member

Virginia Wilmerding

Fifth Committee Member

Dominika Laster




PTSD, flamenco, trauma, ritual, transmission, brain

Document Type