Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 59–68 | Cite as

Practice makes perfect: the effect of dance training on the aesthetic judge



According to Hume, experience in observing art is one of the prerequisites for being an ideal art critic. But although Hume extols the value of observing art for the art critic, he says little about the value, for the art critic, of executing art. That is, he does not discuss whether ideal aesthetic judges should have practiced creating the form of art they are judging. In this paper, I address this issue. Contrary to some contemporary philosophers who claim that experience in creating art is irrelevant to one’s ability to judge that art form, as well as to some dance critics who see dance training as possibly even detrimental to one’s aesthetic judgment, I suggest that having practiced dancing makes one a better observer of certain aesthetic qualities of dance. Dance training, I argue, can facilitate a kinesthetic experience upon watching dance without which some aesthetic aspects of a dance performance—such as grace, power, and precision, as perceived kinesthetically—may go unnoticed.


Dance Aesthetic Motor perception Kinesthesia Mirror neurons Ballet Calvo-Merino Hume 



I thank Rachel Zuckert for her helpful comments on numerous aspects of this work as well as the Phenomenology and Cognitive Science anonymous referees for their extensive useful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy Program, The Graduate Center of the City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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