‘Mass May Be the Single Most Important Sensation’: Perceptual Philosophies in Dance Improvisation
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractThis essay investigates how sensory perception can be cultivated as a key practice in dance improvisation performance. It looks at how artists such as Steve Paxton, Deborah Hay, and Simone Forti propose frameworks for exercising attention to perception when improvising, and how these scores can be routes towards experiencing different ways of relating to one’s environment. The essay draws on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s contribution to theorizing sensory perception in bodily movement and in strands of ecological philosophy, developing the idea of ‘intelligent flesh’ as fundamental to both. It then uses the author’s experiences of working with these artists’ scores to investigate how perceptual attention can be creatively proposed, physicalized, performed, or, in Alva Noë’s term, ‘enacted’ in improvisation.
CitationSarco-Thomas, M. (2019). 'Mass may be the single most important sensation': Perceptual Philosophies in Dance Improvisation. In Midgelow, V. L. (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Improvisation in Dance (pp. 151-69). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
PublisherOxford University Press
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