Audiovisual aesthetics of sound and movement in contemporary dance

Orgs, Guido; Vicary, Staci and Howlin, Claire. 2020. Audiovisual aesthetics of sound and movement in contemporary dance. Empirical Studies of the Arts, 38(2), pp. 191-211. ISSN 0276-2374 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

How do movement and sound combine to produce an audiovisual aesthetics of dance? We assessed how audiovisual congruency influences continuous aesthetic and psychophysiological responses to contemporary dance. Two groups of spectators watched a recorded dance performance that included the performer’s steps, breathing and vocalizations, but no music. Dance and sound were paired either as recorded or with the original soundtrack in reverse, so that the performers’ sounds were no longer coupled to their movements. A third group watched the dance video in silence. Audiovisual incongruency was rated as more enjoyable than congruent or silent conditions. In line with mainstream conceptions of dance as movement-to-music, arbitrary relationships between sound and movement were preferred to causal relationships, in which performers produce their own soundtrack. Performed synchrony granger- caused changes in electro-dermal activity only in the incongruent condition, consistent with “aesthetic capture”. Sound structures the perception of dance movement, increasing its aesthetic appeal.

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This work was supported by Economic and Social Research Council.


dance, aesthetics, music, audiovisual, Granger causality, multisensory, time series6

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22 October 2018Accepted
12 December 2018Published Online
1 July 2020Published

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21 Nov 2018 15:29

Last Modified:

04 Jun 2020 13:28

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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