Laboratoire Cognition, Langues, Langage, Ergonomie (CLLE)
UMR 5263

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Coordinated collaboration and non-verbal social interactions: A formal and functional analysis of gaze, gestures, and other body movements in a contemporary dance improvisation performance

le 23 mars 2018
14 h

Vito Evola, Blackbox Project, FCSH, Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal)- Séminaire CLLE LTC

When watching a dance improvisation, where creativity emerges from performers’ coordinated collaboration, it may seem remarkable how the dancers know what to do and when, and without it seeming haphazard. Performers pick up cues from what is happening around them and “intuitively” make appropriate decisions in the moment, with their actions being a performance the entire time.  

This talk presents a formal and functional microanalysis of what information performers intentionally “give” and what they inferentially “give off” to each other using their bodies during the social interaction of a contemporary dance improvisation. We compare what expert performers and non-performers (sufficiently trained to successfully perform the improvisation exercise) do with their bodies during a silent, multiparty improvisation exercise to identify any differences and to provide insight into non-verbal communication in a less conventional setting. Because of the silent nature of the improvisation exercise, the bodies bear the entire burden of conveying socially coordinating and collaborating information.

Through qualitative and quantitative analyses, we investigate whether these experts use the same strategies described in the literature to socially coordinate the group’s actions and interactions, or if they have in some way learned to use their bodies differently for performance’s sake. The data was coded for: a) directedness behavior (spatial location and orientation of the body, gaze points, object interaction); b) a formal description of movement units (MUs, or gestural complexes marked by the distinct change of the articulator’s configuration or position in space) of the head/face, upper-body, and lower-body articulators; and c) a hermeneutic tier categorizing the functional-semiotic interpretation of the MUs (following a hierarchical taxonomy: self-focused, context-focused; communication-focused). Following the description of the data and the methods, the results of the analyses will be presented, as well as their relevance with questions of embodiment, social cognition and interaction, and performance.
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