Embodied aesthetics and self-perception: less may be more

Corinne Jola, Vilja Niitamo

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    People dance all over the world – notably for different reasons and in different forms. Yet, amongst these idiosyncratic movements, different ‘dance styles’ have evolved, each following specific aesthetic principles aligned with the function and meaning of the dances. For instance, a ballerina aims at a gravity-defying image of lightness to convey dignity and control whereas a contemporary dancer appears powerful and grounded, passionately expressing closeness to nature and physical limitations. The specific aesthetics of a dance style, such as its movement quality, the related body image, its body culture and the role of these factors in dance appreciation and creation have been relatively ignored by empirical aesthetics. Since the prototypical actions of a dance style are closely linked to the aesthetics of a dance, we argue that a better understanding of how embodying different dance styles affect dancers’ physicality and self-other perception is an important influence on dance appreciation. We collected responses from 198 dancers and non-dancers to a set of online questionnaires. The data for established theatre dances (ballet and contemporary dance) and more recent predominantly street-culture based dance styles (Street dance/Hip Hop and Dancehall) showed that the level of embodiment is a significant factor; while the dance style is not. Self-identified semi-professional dancers scored lower on body shame and appearance anxiety than did professionals, dance students, or non-dancers. Notably, many studies on dance expertise are conducted with semi-professional dancers. The particular (positive) body image we found for this expert group may thus have coincidentally benefited many empirical investigations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings IAE 2016
    Subtitle of host publicationXXIV. Conference of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics
    EditorsHelmut Leder, Michael Forster, Gernot Gerger, Marcos Nadal, Matthew Pelowsk, Raphael Rosenberg
    PublisherInternational Association of Empirical Aesthetics
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016
    EventXXIV Conference of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics - University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
    Duration: 29 Aug 20161 Sep 2016


    ConferenceXXIV Conference of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics
    Abbreviated titleIAEA 2016
    Internet address


    Dive into the research topics of 'Embodied aesthetics and self-perception: less may be more'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this