Cognitive ecologies of presence(s) in three different dance forms


8/10/20231 min read

Pini, S. (2023). Cognitive ecologies of presence(s) in three different dance forms. Nordic Journal of Dance - practice, education and research, 14(1), 6-19.

Presence is a central yet controversial topic in the study of performing arts and theatrical traditions, where the notion of ‘stage presence’ is generally understood as the performer’s ability to enchant the audience’s attention. How do dancers relate to the idea of presence in performance, and how do they understand, enact, and perform presence in their artistic work and practices?
In this paper I offer an investigation into presence’s variations in three different dance practices and choreographic contexts: the case of the Ballet National de Marseille during the staging of Emio Greco’s piece Passione; Contact Improvisation in the case of independent groups of contacters in Italy and Australia; and Body Weather, a radical movement ideology developed by Japanese choreographer Min Tanaka in the context of the company Tess de Quincey and Co. in Sydney.
To illustrate how presence in dance practices emerges in relation to a complex and dynamic environment, I propose a cognitive ecological approach to the notion of ‘stage presence’, which considers both the co-presence of audiences and performers and the socio-cultural context of the performance event. By exploring how dancers articulate their lived experiences of presence in relation to their different dance contexts and traditions, I suggest framing phenomena of presence in an embodied ecological sense.