Watching Dance: Kinesthetic Empathy

Research questions

The project is the first to use audience research and neuroscience to explore audience responses to dance. It investigates how dance spectators respond to and identify with movement. To what extent do they internally simulate the movement observed? What conditions favour empathetic response (e.g. interactions between movement and sound) and what are the roles of social engagement and emotional response in kinesthetic empathy?

Principal research questions:

1. What levels of kinesthetic empathy do spectators experience when watching dance?

2. Do spectators who are not trained dancers, but are familiar with watching dance ('experienced spectators') have greater degrees of kinesthetic empathy than less experienced and novice spectators?

2a. How does experience of dancing impact on watching?

Related questions:

3. How do music and sound affect the experience of kinesthetic empathy?

3a. Is the combination of sound and movement perceived differently by experienced and inexperienced spectators?

4. To what extent are kinesthetic empathy and/or neurophysiological response connected with:

5. How do the social experience of theatre and the physical environment impact upon audiences experience of kinesthetic empathy?

5a. How different is the experience of watching in groups from watching alone?

6. Are there correlations between spectators neurophysiological responses and experiences as discerned through audience research?

7. Is there a correlation between extent of:

8. To what extent might brain activity, cortical excitability and kinesthetic empathy relate to social engagement with the person(s) observed?