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An investigation into facilitating the work of the independent contemporary dancer through somatic psychology

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This article presents an ongoing artistic research project that constructs a somatic approach on the basis of character analytic body psychotherapy to support independent contemporary dancers in working with what is here termed performative choreography. In this framework, dancers work with collaborative forms of immediate performance, and are required to possess heightened sensory, perceptual, reflexive and interactional skills. The article links the evolving somatic approach to the context of proto-performance, underlining that somatic work, which transforms the embodiment of the dancer, is already a starting point for performance. At least in this sense there is no clear distinction between artistic process and artwork. It is suggested that character analytic body psychotherapy shares interests with performative choreography as it fosters personal and interactive skills that support the regulation of the reactions and actions of an individual in the actuality of the here and now. Therefore, it might likewise enhance dancers’ ability to embody current trends in contemporary dance. Finally, the article discusses some initial steps in applying this form of body psychotherapy to artistic practice.

Keywords: Wilhelm Reich; body armour and performance; character analytic body psychotherapy; contemporary dance; independent contemporary dancer; performative choreography; somatic psychology

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Theatre Academy Helsinki

Publication date: April 27, 2012

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  • This journal focuses on the relationship between dance and somatic practices, and the influence of this body of practice on the wider performing arts. The journal will be aimed at scholars and artists, providing a space for practitioners and theorists to debate the work, to consider the impact and influence of the work on performance, the interventions that somatic practices can have on other disciplines and the implications for research and teaching.
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