Elliott, Hilary (2014) ‘”The Fifth Appendage”: investigating the role of vision in solo improvisational dance training’. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 5 (1). pp. 31-44. ISSN 1944-3927

This article forms part of a larger practice-led investigation into the role of vision in solo, unaccompanied, un-scored improvisational dance performance. The principal aim of the paper is to propose and situate a mode of solo ‘direct looking’ that can be practised as a means of training for solo dances which are improvised in performance. This calibration of solo ‘direct looking’ as a pragmatic training tool for the generation of choreographic material is positioned and contextualized through analysis of the aesthetic and socio-cultural values of the global training/performance practice of Contact Improvisation and various articulations of ‘direct looking’ that have also developed in post-1960s Western solo/duet/ensemble dance training models - most specifically improvising teacher Al Wunder’s definition of vision as ‘the fifth appendage’. Examples are given of the ways in which the eyes can feed the imagination and the kinesthetic sense, leading to a channeling of corporeal impulse through spontaneous movement expression.

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