Watching Dance: Kinesthetic Empathy


In this section you can use the left hand navigation bar to read about a selection of our research activities; find out more about the research questions that drive those activities and the techniques and methodologies that are used to carry them out.

Ours is a multidisciplinary project that employs innovative and in-depth audience research techniques in interaction with neurophysiological research (TMS and fMRI) to address a series of research questions related to the issue of kinesthetic empathy.

Research using fMRI cannot investigate response to live performance, as subjects need to be lying in a scanner, and TMS cannot be used in a theatre context. Neurophysiological research cannot investigate the social context or the lived experience of spectators, about which we know very little, nor explore what meanings spectators attach to their responses.

Therefore in addition to the neurophysiological research we use a range of qualitative audience research techniques, including participatory workshops (where the audience members are self-reflective participants), semi-structured interviews (where participants can influence the parameters of discussions) and creative workshops (where participants will engage in creative writing and drawing/painting).

To facilitate comparison and interaction between the audience and neurophysiological research, we use the same criteria to define spectator categories. Some dance material has been specially choreographed, performed and recorded for use in both sides of the research (see our Sound/Music Investigation and TMS Study 1). Some subjects participate in both audience research and science parts of the study, and participants in the TMS study are also interviewed.