Acute Awareness of the Self and Interaction: Responsive Embodiment among Dancers and Sociologists


  • Andrea Farley Shimota SUNY Purchase



alienation, arts-based research, attention, contact improvisation, (dis)embodiment, self, sentience


My experience and observation of the physical manifestations of insecurities as a dancer and sociologist led me to develop questions surrounding kinesthetic intelligence, critical cerebral processing, the concept of a “self,” and feelings of embodiment. I became interested in how these reconcile under structures that promote external validation, alienation, and logical thought. This article describes a research-creation project that I began by choreographing a dance with six conservatory students researching themes of alienation, socialization, and scripted behavior. These dancers were individually interviewed about the creation process as well as their experience of dancing. I also conducted a contact improvisation event and group interview with the six dancers and three sociology students. An analysis of the results revealed that they felt a pervasive sense of monotony and disenchantment occurring with routine behavior and interaction in everyday life. They were able to disrupt this disenchantment by working to generate a sense of their own embodiment. Specifically, this entailed attending to concrete details, personal responsiveness, and acknowledging their own impulses toward and away from others. This allowed them to connect to a “self” and to others. In addition, novel physical interactions helped facilitate an understanding of where attention lies, amplified social connection, and combated alienation and disenchantment.