Embodied Engagement in Arts Research

By:
Dr. Karen Nicole Barbour
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The focus of this paper is to argue the case for embodied ways of knowing in arts research. Recognition of embodied ways of knowing and embodied research is relatively recent (Barbour, 2002, 2004). For too long, arts research had been marginalised in academia, particularly performing arts, due in part to the 'somatophobia' (Grosz, 1995) of Western cultures. While grounded in dance research myself, I argue that embodied engagement is crucial for performing arts and arts research in general.

It is through rigorous and reflective practice that theoretical knowledges and lived experiences can be embodied, made meaningful, and thus contribute to the generation of new understandings. I contend that this embodied knowledge is then available to artists for subsequent expression and aesthetic communication via a wide range of mediums and interdisciplinary practices. Embodied ways of knowing may enhance the artist's capacity to develop kineasthetic empathy (Barbour, 2002; Foster, 1995; Stinson, 1995) with audiences, as well as emotional and intellectual engagement. I suggest a process for undertaking embodied research, including potential tools such as self-study, reflective practice, activities to enhance kineasthetic sensitivity, environmental and cultural awareness. I conclude by emphasising the continuing relevance of performing arts in expressing individual human embodied experience in an increasingly virtual and global world.


Keywords: Dance Research, Embodiment, Ways of Knowing, Arts Research, Engagement in Arts, Performing Arts
Stream: Arts Agendas, Arts Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Embodied Engagement in Arts Research


Dr. Karen Nicole Barbour

Lecturer, School of Education, The University of Waikato
New Zealand

I am a lecturer in contemporary dance and choreography at The University of Waikato, New Zealand. My focus as a dance educator is to provide opportunities for students to express themselves through personal movement and contemporary dance, to utilise improvisational and choreographic principles and structures to create their own dances, to learn performance and production skills, and to appreciate diversity in dance. I am interested in fostering qualitative dance research, specifically in choreographic practice, contemporary dance, improvisation, environmental dance and video dance. My PhD research was in embodied ways of knowing and women's solo dance, and subsequent research interests lie in collaborative artistic research, feminist choreographic practices and alternative writing practices to express lived experiences. I also dance and choreograph freelance.

Ref: A06P0345