Fixating or evoking?: writing about contemporary dancers’ kinaesthetic experiences
For this presentation I will share a developing concept of, what I term, ‘a kinaesthetic mode of attention’, that principally emerged from expert contemporary dancers’ descriptions of kinaesthetic experiences in practice contexts during my PhD research. After sharing this concept, I will then discuss its position between two arguments regarding putting kinaesthetic experience into words. One argument follows that talking and writing about kinaesthetic experience ‘fixes’ its ephemerality; in other words, description does not appropriately represent dancers' experiences. For example, in the text 'The Phenomenology of Dance' a feeling of ‘oneness’ while dancing is idealized, a oneness which is disturbed by reflection (and thus describing and writing): ‘[When the dancer] reflects upon herself apart from the dance she is no longer one with it…’ (Sheets-Johnstone, 1966, p. 39). However, there is the other argument that posits that language and experience are interrelated and thus there is a co-existence between dancing, describing and writing about kinaesthetic experiences. For example, Deirdre Sklar argues that, ‘Words remain permeable to their somatic reverberations. […] One can use words to evoke their somatic references’ (2000, p. 74). Where might ‘a kinaesthetic mode of attention’ sit between these two positions? I hope to directly address the conference theme by focusing in on the challenge that comes up when putting a group of dancers’ dancing experiences into words and discursive conceptual frames.