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Dance illusioning the cyborg: technological themes in the movement practices and audience perception of three urban dance styles

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
This interdisciplinary research develops and puts forward an exploratory analysis of three styles of urban dance: liquid, digitz, and finger tutting using Laban Movement Analysis, a rigorous methodology for analyzing human movement. I suggest that perceptual and cognitive principles, particularly Gestalt laws of perceptual organization and the spatial cognition principle of ‘structure from motion’, explain and underlie the visual expressive and communicative strength of these styles through a process I describe as dance illusioning. I put forward three dance illusioning modes: spatial tangibilization, rejointing, and spatial quantization. Furthermore, I develop a novel approach to explaining the effects of technology on dance praxis through a close reading of ethnographic and archival data in conjunction with structuralist and cognitive approaches for analyzing urban dance. I provide evidence on how the styles have historical connections with technological aesthetics and how the urban dance community have in part used technological themes to define their bodies and their movement philosophies. I therefore argue that the styles elicit a receptive reading of the dancing body as cyborgean in that it is simultaneously organic and technological, and of the performance environment as virtually constituted in that it contains invisible, mutable objects and structures that are revealed only through the dancers’ movement. In doing so, I contribute to scholarly perspectives on the historical interactions between technology and dance performance. I conclude by outlining directions for further research and propose that illusion-based dance as a community of practice embodies movement expertise that is of value for technology design.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Schiphorst, Thecla
Thesis advisor: Bartram, Lyn
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etd7483_DMaranan.pdf 2.96 MB

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