Artistic value and spectators’ emotions in dance performances

Álvarez, Inma (2012). Artistic value and spectators’ emotions in dance performances. In: Art, Emotion and value, 4-8 Jul 2011, Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena, Spain.



Our experiences of art are framed by the context and the rules that apply to it. Not only the theatre where performing arts are enjoyed, but also art museums displaying paintings, sculptures, installations and other artistic objects, dictate the distance to the pieces and the type of sensory perception permitted to the visitors. How art is presented to us reflects traditional established settings that determine the conditions of our appreciation and that have become part of each art’s ontology. Moreover, what we are allowed to do in those public contexts, when confronted with art works, reflects the artistic value attached to them. But, in some cases, there seems to be a tension between the borders erected by categories of artistic value and the affective reactions by the perceivers. In this paper I will discuss contexts (original, transplanted and mediated) and perceptual conventions for dance art, and how these define spectators’ roles and impact on their emotional responses to dance performances. In particular, I will focus on negative reactions to dance art to argue that the use of moving human bodies presents specific affective challenges to audiences.

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