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date: 26 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter is centred on research on Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow, which explores optimal experience from the context of positive psychology. It develops a theory of flow in dance improvisation which draws on the eudaimonic concept of wellbeing. Links are made between flow and the defining characteristics of eudaimonia such as personal expressiveness, self-realization, excellence, and relatedness. The chapter draws on case-study research which proposes a methodology that allows the researcher/spectator to engage with the dancer’s experience of flow. The research employs ‘reflexive embodied empathy’, involving hermeneutic reflection for understanding both the participant’s experience and the researcher’s role in constructing that interpretation. The chapter argues that flow enables the researcher/spectator to connect with the experience of the dancer, informing both their understanding of the dancer’s wellbeing and their own wellbeing in the moment of observation. Flow thus offers a perspective of wellbeing that enhances the spectator–dancer relationship.

Keywords: flow, phenomenology, eudaimonia, intersubjectivity, improvisation

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