Experiencing emotional import in twenty-first century Euro-American contemporary theatre dance

  • Lucía Piquero Álvarez

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis explores the spectator’s experience of emotions in Euro-American contemporary theatre dance. It proceeds through a dialogue between philosophical views of the spectator’s experience and a particular focus on the analysis of videos of performance. The study explores the experience of emotions in works of contemporary theatre dance as neither raw—i.e. not intellectual—nor completely ineffable. The view adopted integrates the bodily experience and the intellectual processing of information to create a complex approach of embodied cognition.
    The project develops a conceptual framework through the theoretical notions of emotion, experience, embodied cognition, enactive perception, and emergence, and presents methods to analyse movement qualities, spatial-rhythm, and sound-movement relationships, considering these as perceptual properties of the work. These two aspects of the methodology are put together through a discussion which relates mainly to my own experience as spectator, but also to the experience of other informed spectators through reviews of each work. Two examples within the case studies are well-known works: Russell Maliphant’s Afterlight (Part One (2009)) and Crystal Pite’s Dark Matters (2009); the third example is from one of my own works— Petrichor (2016). The variety of examples helps me to reflect upon my spectatorial and choreographic experiences. The choreographers’ experience, then, is conceptualised as that of first audience members, guiding them to adjust and modulate variables during the creative process.
    The thesis proposes that the experience of emotion in Euro-American contemporary theatre dance is an embodied enactive perceptual process which focuses on the features of the work, but which integrates aspects of both the background of the spectator and the context of the work and the performance. This perspective allows for a comprehensive understanding of the experience of emotion in both spectator and choreographer, creating a bridge between the theoretical and movement analysis approaches and between theoretical research and dance practice.
    Date of Award18 Jun 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorAnna Pakes (Supervisor) & Tamara Tomic-Vajagic (Supervisor)


    • Philosophy
    • Dance
    • Emotion
    • Embodied cognition
    • Enactive perception
    • Choreographic process

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