Multisensorial learning in the professional ballet class in three London institutions

  • Doris Dornelles De Almeida

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis investigates how the professional ballet dancers engage with multiple senses in ballet class, as a cultural space which impact the formation of their sensoria and can promote more inclusive and democratic learning. The daily class is one of the core practices in the professional ballet dancers’ career. Dancers embody unique aesthetic and physicality depending on the setting of each class, its institutional policies, and their social relations in the cultural environment.

    I draw on the literature of dance studies, anthropology of the senses, and sociology to explore the ballet dancers’ ways of learning with their senses in class, as well as on my personal twenty-seven-year experience as a professional dancer, and later as a ballet teacher. The methodology involved ethnographic observations of classes, participatory fieldwork of classes and interviews with dancers.

    The central premise underpinning this research is that dancers engage with affective ways of knowing to learn in ballet class which differ forming their shifting sensoria. Dancers prioritise some sensorial modalities in class impacting the way they learn about technique, and about their own bodies in relation to the performance as a display of individuality and artistry. Dancers attend with their senses, think, and feel through focused attention, memory, imagery, and emotions. Based on the concepts of sensorium, corazonar, decolonisation and democratisation I argue that knowledges from the epistemologies of the South focused on deep sensing contribute to the dancer’s multisensorial learning of ballet.
    Date of Award6 May 2021
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SponsorsCapes- Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (
    SupervisorAnn R. David (Director of Studies) & Tamara Tomic-Vajagic (Co-Supervisor)


    • Ballet dancers
    • Ballet Class
    • sensorium
    • learning
    • multi sensorial
    • London

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