Journal article Open Access

Somatic Practices: How Motion Analysis and Mind Images Work Hand in Hand in Dance

Whatley, Sarah

Somatic Practices are body-based movement practices that foreground self-awareness and a first person experience of moving. Increasingly, somatic practices are informing how dance is taught, created, and performed with many dancers turning towards somatics to ensure a healthy and holistic approach to dance. Several somatic practices draw on imagery as a source for moving, for stimulating a more sensorial engagement with movement and to encourage a sense of moving “naturally” and with respect for the “natural environment.” When somatic practices and the imagery that is important for many of these practices are coupled with motion analysis tools, the necessary processing of movement often requires an intervention that can disrupt the “natural” sense of moving somatically. This processing can thus appear to be at odds with a somatic approach to dance. However, there are many examples where motion analysis and mind images do work hand in hand in dance and can generate exciting new insights to the production, teaching, and making of dance. It is this intersection between somatic principles, imagery, and motion analysis tools that is the focus for this essay, which discusses projects that have explored and exploited the intersection between motion analysis, imagery, and somatic practices.

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