A dance to the music of time: Aesthetically-relevant changes in body posture in performing art

Elena Daprati, Marco Iosa, Patrick Haggard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In performing arts, body postures are both means for expressing an artist's intentions, and also artistic objects, appealing to the audience. The postures of classical ballet obey the body's biomechanical limits, but also follow strict rules established by tradition. This combination offers a perfect milieu for assessing scientifically how the execution of this particular artistic activity has changed over time, and evaluating what factors may induce such changes. We quantified angles between body segments in archive material showing dancers from a leading company over a 60-year period. The data showed that body positions supposedly fixed by codified choreography were in fact implemented by very different elevation angles, according to the year of ballet production. Progressive changes lead to increasingly vertical positions of the dancer's body over the period studied. Experimental data showed that these change reflected aesthetic choices of naive modern observers. Even when reduced to stick figures and unrecognisable shapes, the more vertical postures drawn from later productions were systematically preferred to less vertical postures from earlier productions. This gradual change within a conservative art form provides scientific evidence that aesthetic change may arise from continuous interaction between artistic tradition, individual artists' creativity, and a wider environmental context. This context may include social aesthetic pressure from audiences.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere5023
JournalPLoS One
Volume4
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 26 2009

Fingerprint

performing arts
music
Music
Art
posture
Posture
aesthetics
Esthetics
Creativity
arts
Pressure
Industry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

A dance to the music of time : Aesthetically-relevant changes in body posture in performing art. / Daprati, Elena; Iosa, Marco; Haggard, Patrick.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 4, No. 3, e5023, 26.03.2009.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{97ed40a8e14a4ddbbf6accea9626fe09,
title = "A dance to the music of time: Aesthetically-relevant changes in body posture in performing art",
abstract = "In performing arts, body postures are both means for expressing an artist's intentions, and also artistic objects, appealing to the audience. The postures of classical ballet obey the body's biomechanical limits, but also follow strict rules established by tradition. This combination offers a perfect milieu for assessing scientifically how the execution of this particular artistic activity has changed over time, and evaluating what factors may induce such changes. We quantified angles between body segments in archive material showing dancers from a leading company over a 60-year period. The data showed that body positions supposedly fixed by codified choreography were in fact implemented by very different elevation angles, according to the year of ballet production. Progressive changes lead to increasingly vertical positions of the dancer's body over the period studied. Experimental data showed that these change reflected aesthetic choices of naive modern observers. Even when reduced to stick figures and unrecognisable shapes, the more vertical postures drawn from later productions were systematically preferred to less vertical postures from earlier productions. This gradual change within a conservative art form provides scientific evidence that aesthetic change may arise from continuous interaction between artistic tradition, individual artists' creativity, and a wider environmental context. This context may include social aesthetic pressure from audiences.",
author = "Elena Daprati and Marco Iosa and Patrick Haggard",
year = "2009",
month = "3",
day = "26",
doi = "10.1371/journal.pone.0005023",
language = "English",
volume = "4",
journal = "PLoS One",
issn = "1932-6203",
publisher = "Public Library of Science",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - A dance to the music of time

T2 - Aesthetically-relevant changes in body posture in performing art

AU - Daprati, Elena

AU - Iosa, Marco

AU - Haggard, Patrick

PY - 2009/3/26

Y1 - 2009/3/26

N2 - In performing arts, body postures are both means for expressing an artist's intentions, and also artistic objects, appealing to the audience. The postures of classical ballet obey the body's biomechanical limits, but also follow strict rules established by tradition. This combination offers a perfect milieu for assessing scientifically how the execution of this particular artistic activity has changed over time, and evaluating what factors may induce such changes. We quantified angles between body segments in archive material showing dancers from a leading company over a 60-year period. The data showed that body positions supposedly fixed by codified choreography were in fact implemented by very different elevation angles, according to the year of ballet production. Progressive changes lead to increasingly vertical positions of the dancer's body over the period studied. Experimental data showed that these change reflected aesthetic choices of naive modern observers. Even when reduced to stick figures and unrecognisable shapes, the more vertical postures drawn from later productions were systematically preferred to less vertical postures from earlier productions. This gradual change within a conservative art form provides scientific evidence that aesthetic change may arise from continuous interaction between artistic tradition, individual artists' creativity, and a wider environmental context. This context may include social aesthetic pressure from audiences.

AB - In performing arts, body postures are both means for expressing an artist's intentions, and also artistic objects, appealing to the audience. The postures of classical ballet obey the body's biomechanical limits, but also follow strict rules established by tradition. This combination offers a perfect milieu for assessing scientifically how the execution of this particular artistic activity has changed over time, and evaluating what factors may induce such changes. We quantified angles between body segments in archive material showing dancers from a leading company over a 60-year period. The data showed that body positions supposedly fixed by codified choreography were in fact implemented by very different elevation angles, according to the year of ballet production. Progressive changes lead to increasingly vertical positions of the dancer's body over the period studied. Experimental data showed that these change reflected aesthetic choices of naive modern observers. Even when reduced to stick figures and unrecognisable shapes, the more vertical postures drawn from later productions were systematically preferred to less vertical postures from earlier productions. This gradual change within a conservative art form provides scientific evidence that aesthetic change may arise from continuous interaction between artistic tradition, individual artists' creativity, and a wider environmental context. This context may include social aesthetic pressure from audiences.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=63449123811&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=63449123811&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1371/journal.pone.0005023

DO - 10.1371/journal.pone.0005023

M3 - Article

C2 - 19325705

AN - SCOPUS:63449123811

VL - 4

JO - PLoS One

JF - PLoS One

SN - 1932-6203

IS - 3

M1 - e5023

ER -