Macquarie University
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Stage presence in dance: a cognitive ecological ethnographic approach

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posted on 2022-03-28, 15:03 authored by Sarah Pini
The concept of presence in performing arts and theatrical traditions has historically been related to the intrinsic quality of the performer to enchant the audience's attention. In this view, presence is conceived as the prerogative of the skilled performer, resulting from regimens of training, as well as intrinsic charisma. The main problem with the classic model of stage presence is the performer's position of power, and the relative concealment of audience' participation. According to this view the performer 'captures' the attention of spectators, who are generally conceived as passive receivers. This thesis suggests addressing stage presence through a cognitive ecological approach to explore how presence in performance emerges in relations to a complex and dynamic environment, that includes audiences and performers co-presence and the socio-cultural situatedness of the performance event. Through a phenomenological and ethnographic approach, this work investigates variations of presence in three different dance practices: Contemporary Ballet, in the case of the Ballet National de Marseille and the staging of Emio Greco's piece Passione; Contact Improvisation and the community event of the Global Underscore 2017 in Italy; and Body Weather, a radical movement ideology in Australian dance company De Quincey Co. By exploring how theatrical presence emerges kinaesthetically in dance and how dancers' mindful bodies make sense of their lived experience of presence, this work shows how different performance' ecologies shape different experiences of presence, framing phenomena of presence in a cognitive ecological sense -- abstract.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Being there: theories of presence -- Chapter 3. An alternative approach to the classic model of stage presence -- Chapter 4. (Re)searching presence -- Chapter 5. The re-creation of Passione by the Ballet National de Marseille: distributed enacted presence in contemporary ballet -- Chapter 6. The global underscore and interkinaesthetic social presence in contact improvisation -- Chapter 7. Danced by space: omnicentral situated presence in body weather -- Chapter 8. Being here: cognitive ecologies of presence


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 281-299

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Cognitive Science

Department, Centre or School

Department of Cognitive Science

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

John Sutton


Copyright Sarah Pini 2019. Copyright disclaimer:




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