As part of my PhD I think a lot of about the subjective experience of the solo performer and how this compares with audience perception of the performer. I, like many other practice-led researchers, study my own processes, but that is not to say I do not look at the experience of other solo performers or how dancers’ are being observed. What is most interesting to me is the dualistic framework that physical performers operate in, whereby inner and outer space of the mover is considered. That is, how the physical body / physicality works alongside the internal space; the being, the self.

Legrand and Ravn (2009) have looked at the complexity of this dualism and confirm that whilst one is experiencing their own body, i.e. dancing, one is in experience of their self. This stance aligns with Valera et al, (1991) who have labelled this practice as reflective consciousness. Reflective consciousness essentially allows the body to speak the mind. This claim can pretty much override the notion of self-objectification and disembodiment via performance, particularly if the performer was the sole creator of the work. For instance, if I create movement on and for my body, the movement is generated from a space of self-processing. From this, if observed with the enthusiasm to understand the movement, semiotic value becomes apparent and can thus validate movement as a form of communication.

Teorija, Š. and Požiūriu, S. (2015) have questioned the communicative capacity of dance by confronting structure, exemplification and characteristics of dance. To do this, they were methodologically reflective on existing discourse in linguistics, semiotics, dance works, and theory. They suggest that semiotics, in dance, become somewhat blurry at times, so the observer must think in terms of representation and represented, as opposed to comparing the direct essence of movement to verbal language. An example of this in dance can be drawn from how the choreographer gives the audience something; a representation of something, but the movement presented may not always be clear on what that something is. The author suggests that the audience might go in search of collateral information, such as watching an interviews about the work, reading the program note, or engage in discussion about the work with others, but this will not change the representation of what has been presented.

What is intriguing about the above observations is that their thinking goes straight to audience perception of the work, which undercuts the experience and or readings the solo performer might have of their own movement. When solo performers engage in semiotic readings of their own work, whether professional or not, Smith (2002) projects that self-defeating arenas of judgement are released, empowering a unique voice through movement.

A quote I am Studying

“Writing presents facts, or ideas, or a story, to be read over and over. Thus pinned down by language this presence is re-presentable to anyone who can read. I write to make of my memory, or of a fictional past (something that has happened, at least imaginatively, so that I could set it down), another’s future; I write to be read” (p.142).

A question I am asking

“How is dance documented if it is not documented by film?”

Rowena x

I will be back with more notes next week, but in the meantime, you can see my daily updates by following me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook


Legrand, D. and Ravn, S. (2009) Perceiving Subjectivity in Bodily Movement: The case of Dancers

Smith, M. L. (2002) Moving Self: The Thread Which Bridges Dance and Theatre.

Teorija, Š. and Požiūriu, S. (2015) Rethinking Dance Theory through Semiotics. Research Journal Study about Languages