Do dance movements communicate how we feel? Investigating Emotion Recognition in Dance

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JournalJahrbuch der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Musikpsychologie
DateAccepted/In press - 23 Jul 2021
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Current research into music and free dance movement explores differences in corporeal articulation of basic emotions. Accordingly, Van Dyck et al. (2014) report congruent emotion recognition in free dance movements recorded after happiness or sadness inductions in lay dancers. The current study replicates this previous study with an advanced methodological approach measuring ratings of happiness and sadness recognition separately within both happy and sad conditions. We then tested the differences between the recognition of happiness and sadness in free dance movements. Therefore, a dance movement pre-study was conducted in two different conditions where either happiness or sadness were induced within four lay dancers using guided imagery and music listening. Subsequent to this, dancers were video recorded while moving freely to a neutral piece of music. Those silenced video recordings were then presented to participants (N=37) in an online experiment, who were instructed to rate the emotion they recognised. Based on the Effort-Shape Theory (Laban, 1947), observers also rated kinematic features of velocity/acceleration, directness, impulsiveness and expansion. Participants rated higher levels of happiness for the happy-induction condition compared to sadness. However, participants rated higher levels of sadness in the sad condition compared to happiness for just one of the four dancers. This finding indicates that it is easier to recognise happiness in free dance movements than sadness. The results of the kinematic features supported previous research which rated higher intensities for the happy condition than the sad condition.

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