I-Reflexes: The Affective Implications of Bodies in Dance Improvisation Performance
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Keywords

dance improvisation performance, audience interactive participation, affect, kinesthetic empathy

Abstract

In this article, I present—from the perspective of the dance improviser—an analysis of my practice-as-research project, entitled I-Reflexes. In this piece I explore factors influencing decision-making in dance improvisation performance. I-Reflexes captures the improvisational interaction of three performers: a solo dancer, a musician, and a sonic artist; the audience also participates through the mediation of their mobile phones. In this performance project, ringtones trigger unplanned, reflex-like movements in the body, suggesting alternate terms of decision-making within dance improvisation practice. A significant reflection that emerged from this study was that the act of perceiving brings the world into the body of the improviser, while the felt experience of affect places the body in relation to other bodies in the world. Therefore, I will suggest that to advance understandings of dance improvisation practice and theory, perception and affect should be explored together. Moreover, I will suggest the idea that interactive participation creates a closer affective space between performers and audience, connecting them in a meaningful and stimulating way. In addition, through the medium of ringtones, kinesthetic empathy was amplified. This had the effect of heightening the audience’s perceptual awareness of the relation between performers’ movements and sounds. This relational dynamic between the dance improviser and audience is explored within a psychosocial approach to the study of affect. I draw upon the embodied meaning-making model of affect developed by social psychologist Margaret Wetherell, to investigate this meaningful affective encounter.

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