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Kinesthesia, Empathy, and Related Pleasures: An Inquiry into Audience Experiences of Watching Dance

  • Matthew Reason and Dee Reynolds
Extract

Dance is frequently described as being “about” movement. “Dance,” writes Ann Daly, “although it has a visual component, is fundamentally a kinesthetic art” (Daly 1992, 243). Audience experiences of dance can therefore be conceptualized in terms of responses to movement, most prominently in terms of what has been described as “kinesthetic empathy.” What does it mean, however, to watch, respond to, or appreciate movement? And how does the historical and theoretical concept of kinesthetic empathy relate to contemporary audiences' articulations of the experience of watching dance?

This article sets out to answer these questions by exploring different kinds of kinesthetic and empathetic responses and pleasures (and indeed displeasures) articulated by spectators of live dance across different styles and contexts. Pleasure is of particular importance to audience studies because it relates to motivations. Why do people seek out dance performances to watch? What are they looking for in the experience? In this context, we are interested in kinesthetic empathy as a mode of engaging with dance that can give pleasure to spectators and can be a strong motivating factor in why people choose to watch dance.

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Dance Research Journal
  • ISSN: 0149-7677
  • EISSN: 1940-509X
  • URL: /core/journals/dance-research-journal
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