Moving beyond divergence: a cognitive ecological approach to presence in three different dance forms

Sarah Pini

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

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    Stage presence in theatrical traditions is generally understood as the singular actor’s ability to enchant audience attention, in what has been called the ‘classic model of presence’ (Sherman, 2016). According to such model, presence is conceived as prerogative of the skilled performer, resulting from both regimens of training and intrinsic charisma. Do dancers develop strategies and embodied skills to enhance the experience of presence?
    This work investigates presence’s variations in three dance practices: Contemporary Ballet, in the case of the National Ballet of Marseille’s staging of Emio Greco’s piece Passione; Contact Improvisation and the experience of the Global Underscore in Italy; and Body Weather, a radical movement ideology stemming from Butoh tradition, in Australian dance company De Quincey Co. This study is based on participant observation of the different trainings, rehearsals, and performances, and on the comparative analysis of the interviews conducted with these dancers.
    While often performers of one dance tradition perceive other dance styles as antithetic or subversive in comparison to their own practice, this exploration aims to show how divergent ideologies embedded in different techniques of the body can instead sustain similar experiences of presence. By moving away from a classic model, this work reframes stage presence as a collaborative and emergent potentiality arising from interaction with the audience and the context.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventDance Studies Association Annual Conference (DSA 2018): Contra: Dance & Conflict - University of Malta, Valletta, Malta
    Duration: 5 Jul 20188 Jul 2018


    ConferenceDance Studies Association Annual Conference (DSA 2018)
    Internet address


    • Dance
    • Ethnography
    • Ballet
    • Cognitive Ecology
    • Contact Improvisation
    • Body Weather
    • Phenomenology
    • Stage Presence


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