"This is a urgently needed book – as the question of choreographing behavior enters into realms outside of the aesthetic domains of theatrical dance, Susan Foster writes a thoroughly compelling argument"
- André Lepecki, New York University
"May well prove to be one of Susan Foster’s most important works."
- Ramsay Burt, De Montford University, UK
What do we feel when we watch dancing? Do we ‘dance along‘ inwardly? Do we sense what the dancer’s body is feeling? Do we imagine what it might feel like to perform those same moves? If we do, how do these responses influence how we experience dancing and how we derive significance from it?
Choreographing Empathy challenges the idea of a direct psychphysical connection between the body of a dancer and that of their observer. In this groundbreaking investigation, Susan Foster argues that the connection is in fact highly mediated and influenced by ever-changing sociocultural mores. With the term ‘choreography‘ now being employed to describe troop movements in Iraq, the management of boardroom discussions and even the co-ordination of traffic lights, this is a reconception with ramifications not just for dance studies but for performance studies as a whole.
Foster traces the changing definitions of choreography, kinesthesia and empathy from the 1700s to the present day, showing how the observation, study and discussion of dance has developed through time. Understanding this development is key to understanding physicality and the body politic.