• 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.