Chiara Bassetti

Reflexivity-in-action. The embodiment of spectatorial glance as professional practical knowledge in dance

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Body, dance, performance, reflexivity, vision, visible

The paper focuses on the combination of knowledge and competences which enables the professional dancer "to see her/himself being seen", that is, which embodies the spectator's glance and, at the same time, a specific aesthetic culture. This (self-)reflexivity is analysed, as are the ways in which it changes and is progressively learnt during and throughout the socialisation process. Data have been obtained from an ethnography on the world of professional dancers: they include interviews as well as fieldnotes and video-recordings of the everyday activities in two Italian dance companies and their associated schools (the author also enrolled in dance courses at these schools for the first time). Dancers must be able to look at and evaluate their own body as external observers rather than as integrated beings. They have to do so "while" they are moving and dancing, whereas usually people lack reflexivity when engaged in practical courses of action. The resources dancers utilise and are taught to utilise to this end are "proprioception" (discovering and locating one's body and its parts, and learning to allocate pain in it/them), "self-vision" in the mirror (checking, evaluating, and comparing) and "self-visualization" (imagining and projecting). Synchronically and diachronically, these resources assume a different relative significance, mutually evolving until the performing professional is capable of knowing, both immanently and bodily ("to feel") whether the potential image of her/his own dancing body in a mirror corresponds to the image that, according to dance aesthetics, should be visible to the spectator.

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