• Flow in the dancing body: an intersubjective experience

      Douse, Louise Emma (Oxford University Press, 2017-10-02)
      This chapter is situated in research on flow which explores optimal experience from the context of positive psychology, as it was first expounded by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It develops a theory of flow in dance improvisation which draws on the eudaimonic concept of wellbeing. Drawing on the writings of phenomenologist’s Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Martin Heidegger, the chapter makes links between Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow and the defining characteristics of eudaimonia such as personal expressiveness, self-realization, excellence and relatedness. The chapter draws on case-study research which proposes a methodology for engaging with the dancer’s experience of flow. The chapter focusses on the use of dialogic tasks within the choreographic process to develop an understanding of the dancer’s experience of flow. Further, the research employs the method of ‘reflexive embodied empathy’ developed by psychotherapist Dr. Linda Finlay. As a method, it involves a process of hermeneutic reflection for understanding the experience of the participant while enabling an examination of the researcher’s intimate role in the construction of that interpretation. As a result, this chapter articulates flow as an example of intersubjective experience, and specifically as an example of relatedness, as defined in wellbeing research. It is argued, flow enables the researcher/spectator to connect to, act into, and merge with the experience of the dancer, informing both their understanding of the dancer’s wellbeing and their own wellbeing in the moment of observation. Flow thus offers a perspective of wellbeing that enhances the spectator/dancer relationship.
    • Improvisation and the Earth: dancing in the moment as ecological practice

      Ashley, Tamara (Oxford University Press, 2019-04-09)
      In the chapter, I draw upon artistic practice research to discuss the construction of improvisation scores as a deeply site-sensitive, time-sensitive and person-sensitive process that leads to the construction of specific micro-relations that connect specific practitioners to specific places on the earth. These micro-relations manifest as mindful actions in the detailed cultivation of the earth as a score, where the artists can become concerned with the relational dimensions of their actions in terms of sustainability. I propose that the cultivation of mindfulness and explicit intention of each and every gesture as a contribution to the cultivation of the earth as score is where the ethical work of the artists resides. The chapter offers a broad, questioning and critical perspective on how the practices of improvisation might contribute to the development of a future dance ecology that is both sustainable and inter-connected. Dance improvisation is thus proposed as an activist and applied practice that enables the experiential examination of ecologically sensitive relations, and I assert that the future of the dance ecology is entwined with how we relate to and embody the places in which dance is made.