Emotional release in Jon Ole Olstad’s choreographies: Kinesthetic experiences through a dancer’s perspective
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Dance is a kinesthetic artform. In “Emotional release in Jon Ole Olstad’s choreographies: Kinesthetic experiences through a dancer’s perspective”, Rosa Poels investigates how the emotional release she and other dancers experience while dancing a choreography by the Norwegian contemporary choreographer Jon Ole Olstad in class is caused. Starting from James J. Gibson’s definition of kinesthesia as “the muscular connection to our deepest feelings” (Foster 117), Poels shifts away from the studies of kinesthesia from a spectator’s point of view and focusses on the kinesthetic experiences of dancers in class. After mapping how from John Martin until now, the role of emotions in dance has been researched, she states how kinesthesia and emotions can be defined from the perspective of a dancer. The connection between a dancer’s body and emotions plays an important role. Based on an in-depth interview with the choreographer, Poels discusses what characterizes Olstad as a dancer and teacher. Being a vulnerable dancer and a Gyrokinesis teacher, Olstad’s movements strongly connect to his emotions and movement sensations. This makes his work suitable for research on kinesthetic experiences and emotional release among dancers. These experiences are defined by both Olstad, Poels herself and Olstad’s assistant Leslie Plummer. In order to find out what it is in Olstad’s choreographies that stirs up kinesthetic experiences causing an emotional release, Poels analyzes four videos of herself dancing choreographies in Olstad’s class, to find a common thread. Based on Rudolf Laban’s motion factors in Laban Movement Analysis, Olstad’s choreographies and their movement qualities are articulated. Like in earlier analyses by Shantel Ehrenberg, the kinesthetic experiences and memories of dancers are used to express the sensation behind the movements. Together with the analysis of the musical choreography and the position Olstad and a dancer take in in class, this provides a clarification for the cause of emotional release in dance. By using her own embodied knowledge and kinesthetic memories in her analyses, Poels shows it is beneficial to incorporate the voice and experiences of dancers in research on causes of emotional release in dance.