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Kinesthetic Imagery and Choreographic Praxis

Ando, Taku (2014). Kinesthetic Imagery and Choreographic Praxis. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance/City University London)


The aim of this research project is to investigate the practical application of some ideas regarding how dancers can create certain types of mental images that are formed through their kinesthetic perception, which we shall define as ‘kinesthetic images’, and to study the spatial or geometric structures that are often utilized in choreographic and pedagogical dance praxis. The term kinesthetic image is a label for a certain types of mental imagery that are generated through the sensation of moving body, as well as dynamic qualities that are kinesthetically perceived from movement. Dancers can create mental images from these type of kinesthetic experiences by enhancing their sensory awareness and sensorimotor knowledge, which are both innate and acquired through training.

My dance practice also concerns a development of an improvisation method in which dancers explore an interaction between these kinesthetic images and a visualization of morphodynamic volume (hereafter MDV), which is a three-dimensional volume in a constant state of flux. The term intensive space will be introduced to give a definition to this related type of spatial categorization, one which involves continuous and dynamic transformations of both danced space and the images associated with it, such as stretching, folding and connectivity. This spatial paradigm will be contrasted with its opposite, namely extensive spaces or geometries, which involve the division and subdivision of danced space in terms of metric properties like points, lines, and planes. The first chapter is a review of how choreographically structured movement has been historically conceived and created using spatial concepts and imagery which involve the spatial structures of these types of extensive geometries. This historical analysis commences during the Enlightenment, at a time when the aesthetics and basic movement vocabulary of classical ballet were in a state of genesis. The discussion of geometric paradigms in dance practice continues through this chapter chronologically through to modernity, looking at the characteristics of the choreographic practices of George Balanchine, Rudolf Laban, Merce Cunningham, and William Forsythe.

The second chapter discusses the Improvisation Technologies conceived by Forsythe as a paradigmatic example of the utilization of kinesthetic images and extensive geometry for the purposes of movement creation during dancers’ improvisation. This analysis of Forsythe’s methodology brings forth with it questions as to how choreographic praxis can utilize intensive space as an alternative geometric paradigm with which dancers can interact for the generation of movement. This discussion is rooted in some theoretical elements, such as phenomenology, the philosophy of perception, cognitive science, and mathematical topology, which creates a theoretical foundation for an improvisational practice that suggests intensive spatial structure as an alternative ideational mechanism for movement generation.

The third chapter is a documentation of the chronological development of a pedagogical improvisation method, based on these concepts of kinesthetic imagery and intensive spatial structuring. For the purposes of investigating both choreographic and pedagogical aspects, an extensive period of practice-based research resulted in the production of two improvisatory performances entitled Mix:01 and Mix:02. These performances are discussed and are coupled with the critical observation of the preceding series of studio sessions. Both the performances and the creative processes that led to them are subsequently analysed for the purposes of isolating effective practice.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Departments: Doctoral Theses
PDF (Manuscript) - Accepted Version
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[img] Archive (ZIP) (Supplemental Material - DVD of Mix:01 and Mix:02 performances) - Accepted Version
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