Approaching the Subject
This research developed out of my interest in the relationship between previous experience and the appreciation of dance performances. Initially this was stimulated by my involvement in the field of dance, and in particular by experiences working on the fringes of the dance community. These led to my becoming aware that what I had accepted as established norms in both ballet and ‘contemporary’ dance might strike people external to these fields as problematic. At the same time, I became increasingly conscious of marked differences in people’s responses to different forms of dance: these might be manifested in contrasting audience responses, in disagreement about the significance of aspects of a particular dance or conflicting opinions as to whether certain dance works should be considered as art. Such differences raised questions with regard to the relationship between wider cultural experience and the appreciation of dance. However, my experience of dance being enjoyed across cultural boundaries suggested that this relationship is not one of a straightforward correlation and, further, that understanding of the complexities of this relationship might be developed by exploration of how the significance of dance can be understood as embodied. I was interested in how audiences understand the significance of a dance work and the value judgements they make about it. What a dance is understood to embody may have an impact on both of these (not unrelated) aspects of appreciation.
As I pursued my topic it became evident that while in the dance sector embodiment was a popular topic, there were variations in the theoretical context in which the term was used. Just what is meant by the terms ‘embodiment’ and ‘appreciation’ thus warranted conceptual clarification as part of the research. It was important to me to consider the conceptual issues that arose, not only in relation the theoretical context or even to my own experiences of dance, but by drawing also on the reflections of dance artists themselves.
1.1 Focus of the Research
The focus of this study is the relationship between what may be understood as embodied and the appreciation of (western) theatre dance. Contemplating ‘embodiment’ in relation to (western) theatre dance, a cultural activity that people do within the context of ‘the arts’, suggested an interdisciplinary approach to the research: discussion of ‘embodiment’ entailed drawing on sociological and anthropological perspectives, exploration of different ways of conceptualising mind:body in philosophy, and, in relation to the appreciation of dance, consideration of philosophical aesthetics and developments in the field of dance analysis. Further, due to my own experience of how dance theory can become disengaged from practice, and the suspicious attitude to ’theory’ of many dance artists, I was anxious to ground my reflections by reference to accounts of those involved in making and performing dance. It therefore was important to incorporate information arising from elements of ethnographic research. While it may seem unusual in an account of appreciation to consider the artists’ experience, it will be seen that this is important in an approach that will explore the relationship between performer and audience as central to understanding dance as a communicative act in which what is understood as embodied can be an important element.
Recognising that the chosen research topic would inevitably lead to quite complex issues in consideration of embodiment and appreciation, it seemed prudent to restrict the dance focus of the research. This could have been achieved by focussing on one dance form or genre [i] . However, given that the breakdown between the boundaries of genre has become a feature of much current dance practice, I decided to situate this exploration in relation to dance as a performing art taking place within a specific geographical context. Since what I had already found to be problematic were issues raised by dance within a culturally diverse society, I chose to focus on an area which demonstrated a rich variety of dance and a culturally diverse population. London at the turn of the millennium certainly fulfilled these criteria; moreover, having created work myself within this milieu and having worked within community dance in South East London, I recognised I would be able to draw on these experiences as ‘insider’ to gain access to artists which would facilitate the ethnographic aspect of the research.
This choice did lead to some difficulties
in deciding on the conceptual parameters of this interdisciplinary
study. For instance, in terms of an exploration of the social context in which current dance practices are
situated, to ignore issues of cultural diversity would be absurd given
the extent concerns linked to these issues (immigration, racism and
security for instance) regularly feature in the popular media. The
interplay between people from different cultural backgrounds has been
an important element of my experience in
Consideration of the above led to the following research aims:
1. To develop a broad overview of some approaches to the concept of ‘embodiment’ in dance studies and in the fields of philosophical aesthetics, anthropology and sociology;
2. To explore the implications of the above in an investigation of the appreciation of dance;
To explore ‘embodiment’ further in the context of the acts
of making and appreciating dance by ‘non aligned’ dance artists working
1.2 Initial Development of the Research Method
If defining the conceptual
parameters of the research was difficult enough, even more problematic
was the question of how to develop a research method. What was required
was one that allowed for in depth reflection of the concepts of embodiment
and appreciation in relation to dance whilst situating this within
a shared framework that drew on the experience of others. If too much
focus was placed on my own theoretical reflections there was a risk
of losing a sense of wider relevance. Or, conversely, given as wide
a field as dance performance in London,
there was a danger of losing sight of the theoretical complexities
in an attempt to be as inclusive of as many different perspectives
as possible. However, I came to realise that the questions of what
artistic and theoretical approaches to include, rather than being
thought of as two different issues, could be usefully interrelated:
by focussing on the issues that arose from the consideration of the
perspectives of dance artists working in London, the theoretical context
could be derived, in part, from their concerns. In developing a framework
for interdisciplinary research, reflections from one perspective might
lead to findings that could be further pursued within a different
area drawing on different research methods. As the dance anthropologist,
Andrée Grau, has observed in relation to research with Pan Project
(Grau,1992,10), the point of interdisciplinary work is not to work
from the basis of one subject area, bringing two or three others into
it, but to create something new. Recognising that I was pursuing research
that was neither based in the field of philosophical aesthetics whilst
drawing on anthropology and sociology, nor could be identified as
ethnographic research that drew on aesthetics and sociology, I worked
to develop a method appropriate to my specific concerns about dance.
In recognising that contemplating dance can lead to a crossing of
disciplinary boundaries I was in part following in the tradition of
choreological studies developed by the dance educator
The research method
I developed drew on some interviewing and observation techniques used
in an ethnographic approach. Following
In discussion of another
1.3 Choice of Research Participants
The choice of participants
was in part guided by my own experience of working in
Greater opportunity for a creative element to develop tends to exist in the urban area…..
[but] ‘The less a dance conforms to the norms of urban decision makers or high status groups, the less likely it is to survive unmodified and/or to be widespread in an urban area.
Such considerations combined with reflection on my own observations suggested that those London based artists whom I termed ‘non aligned’ (not creating work for established touring companies) would be most likely to be interested in investigating how their physical presence might be understood and how their work relates to the norms of what they perceived to be the status quo of ‘established’ dance companies. Further, it seemed likely that those who might feel they did not quite match what could be regarded as the generally established norms for dancers would be most likely to be willing to discuss such norms and what assumptions might be thought to sustain them.
A benefit arising
from this approach to the choice of participants was that while within
the field of dance studies there is a reasonable amount of literature
about how established dance artists have approached, or still are
approaching dance, less is available about emerging and less well
known artists. If not written by established choreographers themselves,
there are many texts that include their ideas through direct quotations.
In terms of those working today, information about the choreographic
approach of most artists presenting work nationally and internationally
can be found quite easily, if not in academic texts then in promotional
material. So, for instance, in addition to accounts of or by key artists
from the past, we can read
In part, my choice of participants was guided by who might be willing, prompted by me, to reflect on their experience of dance in relation to embodiment and appreciation. While initially I had proposed to advertise to find people willing to be interviewed, I eventually decided to discuss issues with people I had met through working in dance. Since what I was asking people to do was to reflect on their own work quite deeply, I felt uncomfortable at the prospect of interviewing artists I did not know or towards whose work I had a negative response. I thus chose to talk to people with whom I already had some rapport.
At the beginning stages of the research my main focus was on choosing a range of people in terms of gender, ethnicity and tradition, so that different experiences would be drawn on. This led to my being less aware of the factors that led me to consider why I felt it would be easier to establish the mutual trust needed to explore some of the issues I would be raising. It was only later in the research process that I recognised this related to what the artists have in common and that this would emerge as important, revealing a specific point of view that shapes some of the findings.
Amongst those artists I did know and respect,
I chose initially to enter into discussions with six artists who could
be expected to present a diverse range of viewpoints. As can be seen
from the descriptions below they draw on a range of dance forms and,
while all now are British residents living in
What might be termed
the artists’ ethical approach seemed broadly in line with the performer
and feminist scholar
1.4 Details of Project Participants
Some of the artists wished to stay anonymous: in addition to their individual privacy, it became apparent that what was discussed drew on issues that had wider implications than what might be considered purely personal. The dance community being quite small, some artists felt that those who they have worked with, or for, might (mis)interpret their comments negatively and anonymity permitted a level of candour that otherwise they might have been worried about. For ethical reasons it was important not to publicise someone’s point of view that they only wanted to share confidentially.
In order to distinguish between the different interviewees and to provide some context for their points of view, some information about them is offered below. This is drawn from the artists’ responses to the same questions. Variations in how they are described and the amount of detail or insight offered into their work thus reflect what they wanted to say rather than judgements on my part.
A white female choreographer, in the forty to fifty years age range who after early training in ballet studied for four years at Laban. Artist A’s own work is in the field of mixedmedia, working with dance and video.
A male choreographer, British African Caribbean,
aged between thirty and forty who started dancing as a young man in
clubs in the north of
A female artist of African Caribbean ethnicity
born in the
A male dancer and choreographer, aged between
forty and fifty who describes his ethnicity as 'Hispanic'. He began
I would like to think my work transcends my racial make up but is just an accumulation of 42 years of trying to exist within my condition (Hispanic, gay, male living far from family and roots).
A white female dance artist aged between forty and fifty whose initial dance background began with ‘slightly conventional’ ‘contemporary’ dance followed by ‘a lot of improvisational work, releasing, voice, contact and visual art’. This artist described her work as:
Structured with elements of improvisation within performance. Site [is] very important to the placement of the work. Collaborators involved in sound, visuals, though have a big influence on the process and product - including the dancers.
In addition Agis stated:
[I am] Interested in when, how, why work is made-The cycles of creations! The unfolding! Sometimes work can take three to four years to make. [Does it] feel usual in the dance world to take time?
artist aged over sixty who describes her ethnicity as Indian,
I like to stretch its boundaries to encompass the theme. I often use creative movements from other physical disciplines as appropriate. My aim is to keep a balance between preserving traditional material and making new works by deconstructing and re-structuring the movement vocabulary of kathak, using it as an eloquent means of artistic expression. My teaching involves passing on the traditional repertoire to the students.
1.5 The Initial Research Process and Clarification of Research Questions
In preparation for the initial interviews
I worked to clarify my understanding of the conceptual issues surrounding
embodiment and the appreciation of dance that are discussed in chapters
two and three. In particular this preparation brought to my attention
how different writers on embodiment were exploring various, potentially
interconnected dualisms. Reflecting on this research and my own experiences
of dance training and performance, I was interested in how those creating
dances to be performed by themselves approached the interrelationships
between the subjective experience of the embodied self and awareness
of being the object of another’s gaze. This then became the focus
of what, following Hammersely and
I viewed the participants in the research as fellow dance professionals and potential co-researchers. As I did not want to inhibit the participation of those less well versed in current cultural discourses, the first series of discussions were planned by preparing a framework of initial questions in quite general, everyday language, asking not about ‘culture’ and ‘embodiment’ but about what influenced the artists’ work, how they set about creating, their experiences of creating and performing and of audience’s responses to them. This ran the risk of seeming vague and imprecise (and perhaps precise answers in relation to embodiment were lost) but it was important to signal that it was the participants’ views and experiences that were important, rather than that these were viewed as subordinate to theoretical constructs.
The initial series of discussions all took place between December 2002 and June 2003 and were tape recorded. I had suggested the artists forward video, pictures and articles that they thought would inform me about their work. This was not a popular option. However two women brought video to the interview and all of them knew I had seen them perform in their own work. Each discussion started according to the basic planned format but varied in duration, location and atmosphere. Although I had a prepared list of questions (see appendix one) and commenced with the first set question, the discussions then took different turns. The planned questions started with an exploration of the artist’s dance background and then moved on to their experience of the relationship between their embodiment and their dance and then to an examination of the significance of their dance. I attempted to cover this in one session which was contrary to the suggestions of Seidman (1991, 11-12) who proposes a three interview structure covering relevant life experiences in the first interview, details of the relevant experience in the second and reflection on 'the meaning of their experience' in the third. This difference in time structure that does not maintain boundaries between experience and significance may account for why, even with a prepared structure, the discussions took markedly different routes through the subjects suggested. However, what I experienced was that in the process of each discussion, since the subject matter drew on personal issues, there were variations in how much and when people would share their experiences and concerns with me, especially while being recorded. Moreover, I wanted the focus to be on the artists' understanding of the significance of their actions. To this end, rather than follow the planned questions rigidly, it was useful to pick up on words or phrases that the interviewees used, asking them what they meant by them. This would tend to lead towards broaching a subject that had initially been planned for later in the discussion.
Similarly the original plan was changed since while in some situations it was easy to ask direct questions about sensitive issues, in others more time might be needed before raising these issues. For this reason it was sometimes useful to share some of my experiences, or to enter into discussion about other issues that arose. That I had closer personal relationships with some artists than others, together with variations in location, contributed to these differences. Listening to the discussions I noticed that the more ‘different’ and less familiar the participant to me, the more reticent and nervous I was. The most marked contrast was between a quite chatty, relaxed, over one hour long discussion, that took place at the home of Artist A, a female of similar age and cultural background with whom I have worked creatively, and a shorter, more tentative questioning of Artist B, a male whom I know less well, who knows me as an administrator rather than as an artist and, as I later learned of his background ‘off the record’, whose early life experiences were very different to my own.
Reflecting on these discussions, I began to appreciate how these artists talk about dance. Rather than a striving for a rather linear, academic clarity there is a tendency to metaphor and the poetic. Sometimes artists answered what they had (correctly) understood as the subtext of my question rather than the question itself. Often they mixed the perspectives of performer and audience member, switching subject positions mid sentence. (Most of these were clarified in the editing process so that they relate to one clear perspective, but I found these initial slippages indicative of a way of thinking rather than of a lack of clarity). In turn I found it was sometimes easier to discuss issues with them as ‘dancer to dancer’, rather than maintaining some sort of ‘distance’ by sticking to my prepared script. This flexibility in relation to my prepared structure led at times to my becoming rather too interested in my own ideas which inhibited the artists’ response and meant I ran the risk of encouraging them to give me the answers they thought I wanted, a risk heightened by our existing relationships within the context of the dynamics of the dance sector. However, as Hammersley and Atkinson (1989)  discuss in relation to ethnographic research, the phenomenon of the effect of audience is always an issue. While undoubtedly my relationship to the artists will have had an effect on what they said, this may not all be negative. While their existing relationships with me and knowledge of my interests may have led to their giving a different emphasis to what they said, if the artists had not known me they might not have been willing to say as much. Whoever they talked to, they would certainly have had some, perhaps imagined, idea about what was expected of them. For their part, the artists seemed to take the discussions very seriously, trying to explain their experiences accurately and correcting themselves if they felt they had not used the most appropriate word, even if it was one I had used previously. Their later attention to the final editing process also offered a chance to address any issues of imbalance in the earlier discussions and to minimise the risk of my misrepresenting their views to serve my own agenda.
Even so, to a greater extent than perhaps is common in research based on interviewing techniques, these factors indicate that my voice was already ‘present’ alongside those of my participants before I reflected further on the findings. It is very much my interpretation of what was communicated that is revealed in the following account of what I perceive to be important themes that emerged. Therefore the rigour of this research methodology cannot be claimed to lie within any objectivity of my interviewing techniques but in the clarity with which I have reflected on a combination of my own and others’ viewpoints to explore the issues I perceived to arise. In order to reflect my active participation I have thus written about this element of research as based on ‘discussions’ rather than on ’interviews’.
The importance of such reflexivity is recognised in many current ethnographic studies. Charlotte Aull Davies, for instance, argues for an ethnographic approach that 'embraces its intrinsic multi-layered reflexivity without turning inward to complete self-absorption' (Aull Davies, 1999, 25). Her approach recognises the importance of recent (poststructuralist) insights revealing the power/knowledge distortions of underlying metanarratives, and aims to draw attention to multiple perspectives. However Aull Davies is wary of falling prey to an extreme relativism that is ultimately destructive of the attempt to undertake ethnographic research (Aull Davies, 1999, 6-25). Aware of these issues I was attracted to the concept of dialectical anthropology developed by the anthropologist John Blacking. As described by the dance anthropologist Andrée Grau this is,
…a process in which there is an exchange between analysts and informants which brings into play two kinds of technical knowledge and experience, and in which informants share the intellectual process of analysis.
Grau, 1992, 6
While in the limited use of ethnographic research planned within an interdisciplinary context I could not achieve such a process fully, I ensured that the artists involved had the opportunity to feed back to me on what I had written and where possible, in the next stage of the research, this informed some future discussions and at the very least led to the artists reviewing and editing what I had concluded from discussions with them.
Reflection on the initial series of discussions helped to further clarify the focus of the research and it was at this stage of the research that I was able to re-formulate the focus of my project to arrive at the following research questions:
Within the context of dance as a theatre art
1. How might consideration of embodiment contribute to the appreciation of dance performances?
2. What issues does such consideration bring into focus?
1.6 Refining the Research Method
These questions informed the development of the research. From the first set of discussions I was already aware of some key issues that had emerged in relation to the dance artists’ understanding of the significance of their embodiment. Ranging through cultural diversity, class, age, approaches to gender and sexuality, globalisation and the conditions of late capitalism, embodiment in relation to any of these topics could be a thesis in itself. I was aware of a sense of scratching the surface in order to exemplify the relationship between embodiment and appreciation. Yet it seemed important to try to draw on all these aspects, not least because I came to recognise how they were interrelated with one another. Research into these contextual issues was carried out in preparation for further discussions. This period of the research stretched out over two years (2004-2006) and unlike the previous interviews was less formally organised.
The choice of the
artists with whom I would enter into further discussion drew on my
increasing recognition of the fact that discussing issues with artists
from different dance and/or cultural backgrounds was beneficial in
encouraging me to contemplate issues from a range of viewpoints. The
three artists (
It took me some time to recognise how my method
for pursuing the research was related to my understanding of the subject:
in relation to the appreciation of dance I was investigating the interplay
between phenomenology and semiotics; in terms of the research method,
by 'reflecting backwards' on my own experience of dance, in tandem
with my discussions with other artists, I could contemplate what assumptions
shaped my understanding and appreciation of what I had experienced;
my phenomenological experience of dance was explored with reference
not only to the views of others but to writings on subjects as diverse
as dance, aesthetics and society. Initially, I had been concerned at how my research methods strayed
across seemingly discrete approaches to the relationship of self to
world and had been intent on tightening up on the theoretical context
that informed them so as to present the outcome of a coherent view
of the relationship between self:world. However I began to recognise
that the ambiguity of how this relationship was constructed reflected
the focus of my study. My interest in how dance artists (and often
also their audiences) negotiate between the different ways of approaching
dance was in paralell with my approach to the topic. For instance, in the field of ethnography, I came to discover that while
Geertz promoted a ‘semiotic’ conception of culture’ (Geertz, 1973,
5) his concept of ‘thick description’, influencing my approach to
the research, itself leaned on the philosopher
As in the choreological approach developed by Valerie Preston-Dunlop (1998, and with Sanchez-Colberg, 2002), it was important to draw together different ways of experiencing and theorising about dance. Preston-Dunlop's work also reveals an issue that became another important concern for the research. While allowing theoretically for variations in interpretation depending on ‘past experience and present expectations’ of the spectator (Preston-Dunlop, 1998,11) at times Preston-Dunlop seems to suggest that meanings are fixed in relation to the choreographer’s intention; for instance, on the subject of Ashton’s Symphonic Variations (1946), a plotless ballet created for the Royal Ballet, she claims: ‘Its content is Ashton’s belief in classical tradition, the relevance of classical order and beauty’ (Preston-Dunlop, 1998,15). This statement hints at what was to become one of the problems for the research: how could the significance of dance be both the product of the intentional acts of individual artists and of the interpretative acts of audiences enmeshed within signifying systems? This question was to raise a number of methodological and philosophical issues concerned with the ontological status of dance and the manner in which its significance may be dependent on the reciprocal interrelationships between dancer, audience and the cultures within which they are meshed.
This was the theoretical context in which I began to feel more confident about allowing myself to explore how I and the artists experienced dance. Trips to see dance with one or more of the artists, a discussion of dance on video, observations of the artists in rehearsals and/or performing and informal discussions about their own work all informed this stage of the research. Having started to read around the issues to which the previous discussions had referred, I also returned to the earlier transcripts recognising the significance of remarks that previously had not been considered as warranting particular attention. By referring back to previous discussions some of these follow up discussions could be quite short, but to the point. As the research progressed I felt that the formal recording of discussions was inappropriate as discussions would veer off into areas ‘off the record’. Instead I took notes of key points, sometimes checking a particular statement for a ‘quote’ but more often hoping that the sense I had of what was being communicated to me was not too one sided.
Only mid way through the research, as I reflected
on what I understood to be embodied in their work, did I come to recognise
how perhaps intuitively, while on the surface choosing participants
seeming very different to me, I had selected those with whom I shared certain viewpoints. In the early stages of planning the research, I had envisaged myself in the
later stages as being cast more in the ‘outsider’ role as I identified
specific movement and postural organisation in the dance of others
and through questioning elicited their possible significances. In
fact what these stages of research delved into was shared assumptions
about how movement embodied significance and, despite our differences,
what we understood about the broader cultural context that shaped
our appreciation of dance. The reciprocity of this relationship perhaps
is best exemplified by
As the research was beginning to draw to a close, a discussion about my interest led to an opportunity to observe some classes in August and December 2006 at Independent Dance (a London based organisation for London based independent dance artists) and to take part in a discussion on practice in December 2006. This provided an invaluable opportunity, not only for further observation of practice, but a chance to test out some of my findings. The December 2006 discussion replaced my original plan to share my findings with artists not involved in the research. Those participating in the Independent Dance workshops and discussion represented one group of ‘non-aligned’ artists, those working in a specific area of ‘contemporary’ dance that draws on techniques such as contact improvisation and somatic body practices that emerged out of alternative dance practices in the 1960s and ‘70s. Since the participants in this group seem to be predominantly white and middle class, this opportunity also served to balance the research in terms of the focus I had given to the artists from minority ethnic groups in the previous stage.
In part due to adopting, albeit in a limited sense, a dialectic approach to dance anthropology (Blacking, 1977, Grau, 1992), it was important to the research process that the participants had the chance to review and discuss what I had written and edit what I had cited from our discussions. However there were also ethical considerations. As the research progressed, the distinction between what was ‘on’ and ‘off’ record blurred in our discussions. Even the boundary between what was a discussion linked to the research and what was personal communication was not always clear and I was determined that while I might let ‘off the record’ comments inform my interpretation of discussions about the research, I did not want the artists to find I had cited, even anonymously, something they had meant to stay confidential. While this may mean some of my conclusions appear less supported by evidence from artists’ statements than they might have been this, for me, within the framework of this project was not a problem: this research was a means to interrogate my assumptions and draw on others’ perspectives in order to develop my understanding of the relationship between embodiment and appreciation rather than to prove a particular correlation between culture and the significance of a dance.
I found that disseminating what I had written to the participants was useful in that this mitigated my having misrepresented their words. In addition, while admittedly some did not always pay much attention to what I had written, others came back with questions and ideas that furthered the research. While in the interaction between me and the artists there was a possibility that I contributed to ideas that informed their statements, the chance for them to later see what I had written led to chances to review their own words and my interpretation of them. Particularly as the research neared the end, the artists were all very conscientious in trying to ensure I had represented their views correctly and to this end suggested small changes where it was felt I had overemphasised a point or misunderstood the subtleties of what they thought. This reassured me that their input to the process had its own rigour which supported that of the research process as a whole.
As one artist pointed out, in the time between her interview and the chance to participate in the editing process her own thoughts had continued to develop (Agis, 2007) and some changes reflected the artists’ own development of ideas. For their part, occasionally discussions would affect the artists’ work. This was particularly the case where conversations related to observations of rehearsals where artists were particularly concerned about how others viewed their work and might act in response to comments made.
While the research seemed broad in scope, drawing on aspects of philosophical aesthetics, anthropology and sociology in addition to approaches to dance as an art, in theoretical terms what slowly emerged was a need to develop a focus for my research method that viewed the same problems from the perspective of different disciplines. In as much as elements of the research drew on ethnographic methods I recognised why one ethnographer warns 'any statement about culture is also a statement about anthropology' (Crick, 1982 cited in Davies, 307). As I struggled to understand the relationship between the dancer and the appreciation of dance, I had to contemplate how I understood the relationship between individual and society, self and other, viewer and viewed, subject and world. Ultimately it seemed to me that these questions resulted from the same ontological and epistemological problems, or at least how in a particular time and place it is possible to think about them.
The complexity of the relationship between self and other is important to a discussion of the appreciation of dance, not least because the tradition of (western) aesthetics in relation to art seems to depend on a complex interrelation between a work of art, subjective aesthetic experience and what can be publicly agreed. In his account of the history of aesthetics, Monroe Beardsley, writing in the 1960s, was able to show how aesthetic theories were, in each period up to and including the early twentieth century, intrinsically related to their contemporary philosophical approaches to questions of mind, knowledge and ethics. Hence the influence of Cartesian rationalism can be seen in the late seventeenth century poetics of Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (Beardsley 1966, 141). Similarly, the epistemological conflict between rationalism and empiricism provides the context for the concerns in Enlightenment aesthetics with how to respond to a work of art that appeared to follow the established (a priori) rules of art but the experience of which did not provide the expected (aesthetic) enjoyment (Beardsley, 1966,146). While the nineteenth century focus on the felt experience of the individual is hardly out of context within the development of liberalism and modernity.
In a study of the present, it is likely that views about how art is to be appreciated will be bound up with current concerns with mind:body:world and the relationships between them. Without the benefit of hindsight it is hard to catch hold of which particular themes and issues are most influential, but this project has tried to reflect on some of them that currently appear important. The present, however, is not viewed as cut off from history but rather as intertwined with the legacies of the past. From such a framework the ambiguities and complexities of how the relationships between mind:body: self:other:world are viewed in themselves could be understood as embodied in dance.
[i] The term ‘genre’ is used by Hodgens (1988, 72-77) to distinguish between ‘different types’ of a particular category of dance that are ‘collectively distinct’. Ballet would thus be a genre within the broader category of ‘theatre dance’ that could be subdivided into different styles of ballet such as pre romantic, romantic and classical.
[ii] The topic was proposed before 11.09.01 and renewed concerns in the aftermath about ‘multiculturalism’.
However, this might change as