You Move, I Watch, It Matters: Aesthetic Communication in Dance

Orgs, Guido; Caspersen, Dana and Haggard, Patrick. 2016. You Move, I Watch, It Matters: Aesthetic Communication in Dance. In: Sukhvinder S Obhi and Emily S. Cross, eds. Shared Representations: Sensorimotor foundations of social life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 627-653. ISBN 9781107279353 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

In this chapter we will introduce a new theory of aesthetics in the performing arts that is based on communication via movement. With a specific focus on dance performances, we propose that movement messages are communicated from performer to spectator. We suggest that the aesthetic impact of dance (and perhaps all performing arts) is a result of successful message-passing between performer and spectator. We show how Grice’s four maxims of successful conversation can be applied to the performance situation. We propose that communication during a performance is interactive and bidirectional. Information being passed from performer to audience is primarily communicated through observed movement kinematics and choreographic structure: We will distinguish between the processing of syntactic information of postures, movements and movement sequences on the one hand, and processing of semantics of movement intentions on the other hand. Aesthetic processing of the movement message will further depend on the spectator’s visual and motor expertise. In a dimensional model of aesthetic appreciation of dance we distinguish between processing fluency and novelty/complexity of information as two distinct sources of movement aesthetics that relate to specific brain mechanisms. Aesthetic judgements of preference and interest will reflect a combination of both implicit processing fluency and explicit aesthetic strategy of the observer. Our theory differs from existing accounts of aesthetic experience in that it emphasises successful communication as the primary source of aesthetic experience. Appreciation of dance in this context is neither just a function of dance movement features (as an objectivist aesthetics suggests) nor of the spectator’s processing fluency (as a subjectivist aesthetics suggests). Instead, our emphasis on communication implies some level of experience-sharing between dancer and spectator.

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1 October 2016Published


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21 Dec 2017 12:03

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29 Apr 2020 16:42


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