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Self-somatic authority: Exploring the cultivation of somatic intelligence through a dialogic approach to self-reflection in dance technique learning

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This article contemplates the notion of a ‘self-somatic authority’ by exploring the relationship between dialogue, self-reflection and the cultivation of somatic intelligence. Drawing on Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of dialogism, and specifically his concepts of ‘authoritative discourse’ and ‘internally persuasive discourse’, the author explores whether a dialogic approach to teaching release-based contemporary dance technique in higher education can enable learners to meaningfully reflect on their practice, subsequently leading to a stronger sense of somatic intelligence. To examine the efficacy of this pedagogical approach, responses from a focus group discussion conducted with a group of first year students who participated in a cycle of action research are examined; the teacher’s reflective journal notes are also analysed. Drawing on the data, the author proposes that a dialogic approach to nurturing self-reflection in the dance technique class constructs a particular kind of somatic-informed pedagogy that not only appears to facilitate ‘self-somatic authority’, but also presents unexpected challenges and contradictions.
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Keywords: action research; dance technique; dialogue; reflection; self; somatic authority

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Manchester Metropolitan University

Publication date: June 1, 2018

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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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