Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 39-57

First online:

From movement to dance

  • Maxine Sheets-JohnstoneAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Oregon Email author 

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This article begins with a summary phenomenological analysis of movement in conjunction with the question of “quality” in movement. It then specifies the particular kind of memory involved in a dancer’s memorization of a dance. On the basis of the phenomenological analysis and specification of memory, it proceeds to a clarification of meaning in dance. Taking its clue from the preceding sections, the concluding section of the article sets forth reasons why present-day cognitive science is unable to provide insights into dance, notably because being largely tethered to happenings in the brain, it lacks foundational grounding in experience, specifically, the actual experience of movement, which is to say in kinesthesia.


Phenomenological methodology Tensional, linear, areal, and projectional qualities of movement Kinesthetic learning Kinesthetic memory Kinaesthetic/kinetic melodies Inherent qualitative dynamics of movement Meaning Dynamic congruency of movement and emotion Qualitative kinetic dynamics Aesthetic distance Animation and dynamics Corporeal concepts