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Untying the knot of dance expertise: Enabling kinesthetic transfer in technologically-mediated spaces

Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
The technological transmission of dance is increasingly becoming more integrated in the construction of dance knowledge. In my dissertation I examine how the physical experience and practice of dance can be effectively recorded and transferred in technologically-mediated spaces. I refer to the physical experience of dance as kinesthetic knowledge and conduct a series of three case studies, informed by my practice in dance and Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies, to examine the kinesthetic transmission process. Through my research I demonstrate the importance of movement expertise in the kinesthetic transmission process and show how observers interpret translations of kinesthetic knowledge through their unique movement training background. I argue that for kinesthetic knowledge to be effectively transferred in technologically-mediated spaces, there needs to be more understanding of how to design for audiences of diverse movement backgrounds and application of dance expertise research. Informed by an enactive theoretical understanding of cognition, I analyze expert perception through observers' eye movement patterns, performance in a change detection task, interview data, and survey data. I find dance experts perform better in the change detection task and look closer to the mover's hip region than non-experts. For research to continue to progress, I suggest dance expertise must be more rigorously defined, and I create the Movement Expertise Survey as a first step in this process. In parallel research, I critically examine how knowledge is transmitted in technologically-mediated dance works and develop the I-TEC design framework to promote kinesthetic interaction. I apply this framework to my development of A Performer's Perspective, an online interactive documentary that transmits the kinesthetic experiences of three dancers. I suggest embodied design approaches and multi-modal observational practices can increase kinesthetic empathy and generate new physical experiences that are only possible in technologically-mediated spaces. By combining practice-led and practice-based approaches, I emphasize the equal importance of generating knowledge through both artistic and scientific avenues of discovery and suggest a new understanding of movement expertise that can inform research in embodied cognition, dance documentation, and embodied design practices.
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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Schiphorst, Thecla
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