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Performance Response #3: BalletX

Due Thursday by 5pm

Points 16
Greetings, PDXers Performance Response #3 (whatever your third performance happens to be)
requires you to:
Read the following research article
“A preliminary psychology of how we’re moved
by watching dance” (follow the link below: “Measuring the
Provocative Power of Dance”)
Read the article more than once, then construct a 600-800 word essay that takes into
account both the attached article and Performance #3, which, for the majority of
students is BalletX.
Your submission should be spell-checked and controlled for clarity and selectivity of
descriptive language, and must contain all of the following: contextualization,
description, interpretation, and evaluation—of the dance performance in question.
Please include in your submission what scenes, moments, sounds, or movements in the
performance suscitated a memory or an emotion, or both, giving simple and clear
reasons for the resonance.
Article : (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Total performance is 90 mins
First part video:

Second part video:

Third part video:

Calendar Phila Dance Experience
Location The Wilma Theater: 265 S. Broad St., Philadelphia PA 19107
Spring Series 2019 features 3 new works by choreographers Lil Buck, Nicolo Fonte
and Katarzyna Skarpetowska.
BalletX presents the East Coast Premiere of Lil Buck’s Express, originally cocommissioned by Damian Woetzel for the 2018 Vail Dance Festival. Combining
ballet and a style of street dancing performed in sneakers called Memphis jookin, Lil
Buck’s Express features music by Jon Batiste of The Late Show with Stephen
Nicolo Fonte returns for his third BalletX premiere, following Beautiful Decay (2013)
and Beasts (2015). Fonte’s new ballet features music by Ezio Bosso and Ólafur
Arnalds, and will have its World Premiere on BalletX at the Vilar Performing Arts
Center in Beaver Creek, CO on Feb. 9 before returning to Philadelphia for Spring
Katarzyna Skarpetowska is BalletX’s 2019 Choreographic Fellow, selected by a
panel of dance experts, including Nicolo Fonte. “I loved the breadth of movement
ideas in her work,” said Fonte. Skarpetowska’s World Premiere with BalletX is
inspired by Cy Twombly’s 2005 painting Untitled, and features music by Vivaldi and
Adrian Klumpes.
EMOTION, MUSICJune 22, 2016
A preliminary psychology of how we’re moved by watching dance
If you’re after chills down the spine, you might find that watching professional ballet dancers does the
trick just as much as listening to music. Yet whereas the emotional effects of music are well researched –
indeed, there are conferences and journals aplenty devoted to the psychology of music – scientists still
know very little about the ways we are moved by watching dance.
Now one of the first ever investigations into the emotional effects of dance has been published online
at Acta Psychologica and the researchers found that rounded dance movements, rather than edgy ones,
made watchers happier, as did more impressive moves, up to a point. The research also showed that,
like music, watching dance can provoke visual imagery and personal memories in the viewer.
Julia Christensen and her colleagues created 203 six-second black and white, silent clips of a world class
female ballet dancer taken from her live performances. The woman’s face was blurred in the clips so the
focus was on her dance moves. The clips were then shown to 83 participants – their average age was 21
and they were mostly women – who rated them for how positive they made them feel and how
energized or calm.
The researchers found that the participants reported feeling more positive emotions in response to clips
that involved the dancer performing the attitude position (front and back; A and B in the picture below)
than to clips that did not involve any rounded movements. This actually complements research in the
domain of architecture and design that’s found people feel more positive in rooms that contain more
rounded furniture.
A to C rounded dance movements, contrasted with non-round movements D to F. Image
from Christensen et al 2016
The researchers also compared the effects of clips featuring different leg movements – either no leg
raise, bent leg raised at 90 degrees, straight leg at 90 degrees, or straight leg raised at over 90 degrees
(see image below). Participants felt more positive emotion when the leg was raised at all compared with
not being raised – a more impressive feat – but there was no increase in positive emotion for leg raises
that were higher and more difficult. The researchers said this suggests that, in contrast with gymnastics,
“affect is induced from dance through the quality of the expressive intention of the movement – not just
by its quality (e.g. how stretched or extreme)”.
Image from Christen et al 2016
Research published a few years ago found that Covent Garden dancers have been raising their legs
progressively higher over the years, possibly in response to changing aesthetic tastes. This provides a
reminder that the current research was focused on people’s emotional reactions to dance, not their
aesthetic appreciation of it. It’s possible that progressively higher and more difficult leg raises provoke
more aesthetic appreciation without adding any extra emotional impact.
Another part of the current investigation involved presenting 15 of the dance clips to 12 undergrad
students and then interviewing them about how the clips made them feel (it was emphasised to the
students that if they felt nothing, this was just as important as reporting any felt emotion).
Even though the clips were just a few seconds long, some of the students reported feeling emotional
reactions in response to them, and two of the students described experiencing visual imagery and
triggered memories: “I even told myself stories about why the dancer made sad movements and felt
sorry” said one participant; “When I felt that an emotion was negative it was because the sad clips made
me think of situations where I’d been sad,” said another. This means that 17 per cent of the small
sample reported imagery or memories, which is similar to the rates seen for music. Another parallel with
music was that the participants often reported experiencing sad emotions, but they nonetheless said
the experience was pleasurable.
This study makes a laudable though highly tentative first attempt to study what many may consider the
hidden and unknowable connection between a dancer and her audience. “A dancer may dance without
the aim to transmit anything to anyone, but follow an internal expressive intention, like an inner dialog”
the researchers concluded. “S/he may dance just what’s on her/his mind. Yet that intention will be
visible in the dance, and grasped by a spectator. Thus what we like when we see a dance is not
necessarily the beautiful – but especially the honest and authentic.”
Christensen, J., Pollick, F., Lambrechts, A., & Gomila, A. (2016). Affective responses to
dance Acta Psychologica, 168, 91-105 DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2016.03.008
Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

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