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date: 20 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines improvisation through the lens of emergence in order to continue a dialogue with cognitive science, emphasize the action of dancers as bodyminds, and reflect on the value of emergence as a conceptual model for dance improvisation pedagogy. By first introducing the basic tenets of emergence and then revisiting the existing work on emergence in relationship to ensemble improvisation, the chapter offers an examination of the concept of self-organizing consciousness and its possible manifestation within the practice of contact improvisation. By linking scientific and dancerly concepts of sensory perception, habitual/automated decision-making, and the multiple mental aspects that comprise higher-level consciousness, the chapter argues for the adoption of emergence as a model for understanding dance improvisation that provides students with a way of understanding the act of improvisation as an exercise in critical thinking rather than one that grounds creativity in a Romantic notion of the individual.

Keywords: improvisation, consciousness, emergence, habitual, pedagogy, bodyminds, creativity, cognitive science

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