Vivian Medina

Through her doctoral thesis, Vivian Medina materialised her dream of combining her two greatest passions: dance and applied yogic science. Vivian’s thesis earned a place on the prestigious Dean’s List in 2023.

Programme: PhD in Dance Studies
Supervisors: Dr Becca Weber, Dr Emma Willis & Dr Mark Harvey 
Funding: University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship 

Journey to doctoral research

“I was born in Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia, however, during the first years of my early childhood I grew up in an Indigenous territory in southeastern highlands of Colombia, also known as Cauca or Nasa territory. At the age of 4 I returned to Bogotá with my family.

“Since 2000, I have navigated the waters of artistic practice and spirituality (Yogic science and meditation). Without knowing it, my interest in transdisciplinarity started in 2002 with the encounter between different artlangs (artistic languages) such as theatre, contemporary dance and the notion of dramaturgy.

“In 2023, I completed my PhD in Dance Studies at the University of Auckland with the thesis Toroidal Dance: a yogic perspective of choreography, transdisciplinarity and dance dramaturgy.”

Life as a researcher

“My thesis is a very unique transdisciplinary weave that reflects insights and work developed over more than 20 years of studies in the field of yogic science, choreography and performing arts. In my thesis I propose some of the contributions that yogic science can bring to the creative/choreographic field and how specific yogic concepts can be creatively translated and explored in choreographic practice. I was inspired by the cornerstone Kundalini Yoga meditation, Long Ek Ong Kar, to use the physical and mathematical concept of the torus/toroid (donut-shaped pattern) to create a point of convergence between yogic science and choreographic/creative perspectives.

“The complexity of my thesis involved seven layers: transdisciplinarity, yogic science (subtle nature), toroidal pattern, healing, dance dramaturgy (as subtle communication), multidimensionality and wholeness. From this structure I was involved with concepts from multiple areas of the knowledge like yogic science and philosophy, somatics, physics, mathematics, geometry, neuroscience, and trauma studies to explore how performing arts, dance, and yoga are holistically intertwined.

“This structure, as well as the documentation devices I created to present my creative practice component, led to my name and thesis being awarded on the Dean's List."

Through this thesis I have materialised my dream of bringing my two greatest passions in life together, dance and applied yogic science. 

Vivian Medina

"I have also developed significant tools especially in the field of dance and healing that have given me the pleasure of working with amazing communities here in New Zealand, such as immigrants, refugees and victims of violence. The fact of taking the artist's work to a different realm where the arts can serve to repair and return to one's authenticity and creative expression is something priceless for me.”

Advice for other doctoral candidates

“My advice to PhD candidates is to trust your own voice and instincts and don't be afraid to explore new territories that seem unfamiliar or a little crazy. In my opinion, the most powerful gift a PhD can leave in our lives is the capacity to find our own creative voice and personal research signature.”