Dance Appreciation: The View from the Audience

In David Goldbatt, Lee Brown & Stephanie Patridge (eds.), Aesthetics: A Reader in the Philosophy of the Arts, 4th edition. New York: pp. 347-350 (2017)
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Dance can be appreciated from all sorts of perspectives: For instance, by the dancer while dancing, by the choreographer while watching in the wings, by the musician in the orchestra pit who accompanies the dance, or by the loved-one of a dancer who watches while hoping that the dancer performs well and avoids injury. This essay will consider what it takes to appreciate dance from the perspective of a seated, non-moving audience member. A dance appreciator in this position is typically someone who can hear and see, who can feel vibrations of sound through their skin, and who can have other human, kinaesthetic responses and perceptions as well as the cognitive ability to process them. This appreciator is also someone who is a person with a history that may or may not include experiences of dance that have conditioned his or her responses to watching dance. Based on both this experience, and the skill and capacity to focus, pay attention, make judgments, and convey those judgments, there are different types and levels of audience appreciation. This essay will consider three: 1. Innocent Eye Appreciation, 2. Dance-Trained Appreciation, and 3. Critical Appreciation.
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