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Sensory Embodiment in Classical Ballet and Dance.

Updated: Mar 21

How the senses are employed by dancers, from training young beginner through professional finished performing artist/dancers.

You are walking in a garden and there is a perfect rose - beautiful. You bend to smell it.  You close your eyes.  In your memory, you can see that beautiful rose imprinted in the olfactory and visual sense in your mind’s eye.  You stand up and lift you head and gaze at the sky, and a tune comes to mind. That tune reminds you of a time you were with your love, and you danced.  Good.  Now you open your eyes. experienced a form of sensory embodiment, an interaction of the senses stimulating memory into realizing performance, or an “embodiment of the senses.” 

We are all born with five basic senses, as well as the mental capacity to organize what we sense. We can relate consciously or instinctually to them.  And we tend to use all the senses separately and in conjunction, some more than others. The result is a response to memory that requires little conscious effort of recall.  To the performer, the response is natural – as if the performative behavior, is no difference than mundane effort it takes to get up in the morning and interact casually with others.

There are at least seven types of memory: Episodic or long-term memory of details. Semantic memory or long-term memory of facts and learned knowledge. 

Semantic memory or long-term memory of how to do things.

Short-term and Working memory, or Brief memory of information that is only needed in the short term that can be manipulated or changed. Prospective memory or recalling an intention or specific task to be performed in the future.  Sensory memory or short-term memory of sights sounds, smells tastes and touch.

Everyone uses these for as recall for different thoughts, feelings and tasks. So, it is a given that artists must use Episodic and Semantic memory to memorize dialogue, musical scores and choreography.  Students of any endeavor must use these foundational forms of recall to memorize everything from mathematical equations to historical dates to linguistic grammar.

But, for performers to implement repeated communication in a long series of performances with phrasing, shape, emotion, timbre, color, narrative and/or feeling, it is necessary for them to expand some of the shorter-term sensory anamneses (recollection) into long term recall. So, to recall the intricate data that includes dialogue, phrasing, movement and positions, in every show, the artist must have a strategy towards recollection to communicate those feelings across the proscenium arch. Prospective memory should be increased to employ their memory to task. But artists must increase their ability to imprint data by expanding their use of Sensory memory from short to long term recall. The brain is not structured to simply store sensory memory directly or in the long-term, the way it may in episodic and semantic memory. So, the mind adapts, using “cross referencing” or “sensory cross correspondence” to store maintain and organize perfomance based data. Our neurology uses the memory of other senses to first recall, then tap into imagination to codify performity and creative output. To be specific, sensory memory is stored in the fascia and nervous system in the whole of the corporal body.

We may not think so much about how we use our senses.  Sight. We see something identify it or not.  Sometimes if it's new we examine it. Hearing. We hear a tune we like and begin to hum or sing it…or hold our ears if we don’t like it. Same with smell, taste and touch. We react, or not, directly or indirectly with each of them. 

Sensory Cross Referencing/Corresponding (SCR)[1] & Synesthesia[2].The rose initiated the memory of music and dance. Sensory Memory and Cross-Referencing, Cross-modal or Correspondence is defined the memory of one sense being recalled by one or more other senses. Once sense may cause the recall of a taste or smell.  A chef might recall a recipe, by the visual memory of where he learned it. (SCR) Or he may instead, perceive multiple colors that activates the memory of the recipe. (Synesthesia).  We all have dominant senses help shape how we view our world, personalities, choices and preferences.

Or, when it is purposely engaged with memory, the senses cross reference like a dictionary might between words.

What is it that dancer’s sense; what do they experience when onstage, once the curtain goes up? Ask any dancer, and you’ll likely get a different answer from due to who they are, where they were raised, how much experience, their level of ability as dancers, their maturity (remembering that dancers are usually young). “Nerves,” “Quiet.” “Excitement.” So, no two completely alike.  It makes sense. Dancers are individuals.  But in classical ballet, particularly in ensemble work, uniformity is du riguer. And, regardless of the dancer’s experience, or what they notice, the performing artist is trained to know without thought that it is the audience’s experience that comes first. It doesn’t matter what they experience.  It matters what the audience sees and is communicated.

Two years into my training, I remember distinctly when I began to memorize combinations in lessons or rehearsal, without thinking. (Being dyslexic with ADD, I employed effort and diligence to practice learning coordination and translation of both visual and auditory instruction to achieve.) For each phrase of movement taught, I would often step aside to find the flow of the movement. I would often looking to other dancers or asking the person staging the movement, utilizing color and shapes with language of classical ballet and dance. Like learning a language, to teachers, it was nothing new: we are used to the “aha” moments when a student improves and “gets it.” When I was a young child, I learned to read and write this way.  Like all dancers, I had to memorize huge quantities of kinetic phrasing and data every day.  But, because my brain would flip it upside down and backwards, I needed a sensory back-up.  For me it was the colors and patterns (synesthesia) combined with internal felt-sense with music cues that would help me recall the phrases and ballets. A phrase of dance would be demonstrated and verbally explicated for me to visually assimilate. I’d process it and then perform it, communicating it back to the choreographer. First the visual sense, second the intra-haptic felt sense in the visualization process, and then performed somato-kinetically. In the arts, the skill-set of the specific form, has to involve a transference of sensory data in order to achieve performity.

Sensoral Linguistic Translation

Dance, and ballet, like all the arts, are an aesthetic. All aesthetic forms are more abstracted forms of communication, descending from primitive human seeds of communication and language. “…the arts are the historical basis for all levels of human communication.”[3]  The difference is the language is not a direct semantic.  It is symbolist, employing visual and linguistic semiotics to communicate not only narrative, but feelings. In dance, when this transmission to an audience is successful, these feelings are often the same feelings the performing artist is projecting across the proscenium arch. To achieve this, a dancer is required to retain a significant amount of data, either demonstrated and spoken by a regisseur, rehearsal assistant, director or choreographer. The performer must be well trained enough to translated across one or more of her or his senses and embody it.

The more complex the skill and short-term memorization of a large amount of data, the more the need for a memory to be intra-translated across a variety of her/his own senses, then realized in the aesthetic “language” the art form employs. The performer then “states” it in dance, fine art, music and voice, or dramatic theatre, by performing it extrinsically to the observer audience. The need to use extended portions of the brain and the senses that inform it, to achieve this, is crucial.

In synesthesia, some people can memorize data visualized as color coded in their memory. Many dancers, visualize their dances, in patterns of color. The dance they then perform, is explicated, and returned as reenforced memory. In strict classical dance, in repetition, this is how the art form is imprinted. After this, in sensory cross referencing and synesthesia this is how a dancer often remembers a dance, triggered simply when the music plays, or internally she feels a specific shape, initiates the memory of the ballet.


Studies have determined that there are ten types of synesthesia [4]. And synesthesia is considered to be involuntary. However, when it is applied to professions that require recall of data and patterns as primary function, such as dance, music or drama, this kind of embodiment isn’t random. But there is little doubt a similar process must be at work as a voluntary and imprinted process in the arts. In dance and other aesthetic skills, the cross-referencing of the senses can be considered a form of embodiment that is requisite to its function as a craft. 


To observe this in action, I suggest one day, get a backstage pass to a dance performance or ballet. Stand against the firewall stage left or right, and watch the dancers in costume, oh, around 10 or 15 minutes before curtain. To most untrained eyes, you should see dancers in costume, flinging their hands and arms around with their eyes half closed running through the ballet or dance, rehearsing their part quickly, as if on fast-forward. Then you may see them stop and translate this weird short-hand  They are visualizing the ballet in their minds. It may look like they are all a bit mad! You are witnessing this short-hand called “marquing”; visualizing, often using their hands and body, while visualizing the movements of the body & the dance they are about to perform. They are replaying the choreography or dance instructions as they have learned from memory. Dancers of all genre do this to a degree.  Marquing is “half-doing” the dance for memory’s sake. It is a form of internal “mind-mapping.[5]” They are walking through the movements, drawing from memory the positions, steps and phrases, then trying some in full performance mode, so that, when the curtain rises, the ballet is fresh in their minds. 

But every dancer is different.  So, how a dance embodies their senses as they, is different to learn retaining the kinetic data, versus how they rehearse and as the perform the material memorized and embodied. Still, “marquing” this way, tracks the visualization of the composition they across the circuit board of their senses.  And, in general, the dancers a will follow a sensorial exchange of linguistic pattern of multiple senses, to speak the work they are performing to the audience.  And the training of a dancer’s mind, begins in the first lesson training the dancer’s mind.

From the first “plié”[6] a young dancer learns, to the last plie performed at the conclusion of their swan-song performance before retiring, the dancer’s senses guides them in performing the movement.  The young dancer unknowingly is training their sensory pattern that all dancers share becomes embodied. From the first step they learn in rehearsal for a dance or ballet, to the last step they perform before they bow to the audience, these sensory patterns guide a trained dancer from beginning to end.


But, in visualization, sensory cross-referencing/corresponding (SCR) [7], synesthesia and visualization, the senses interact to refine and can confirm function.  If the chef relies upon taste alone, but is confirmed by a memory of a scent, then the memory of the taste can be cross referenced and confirmed.  The chef cross-references in two completely different sensory languages to confirm recall.  And, this is why artists learn to cross-reference their senses when remembering dialogue, a recipe, a piece of music or a ballet. And, because the ability to reference cross sensorily time based indirectly repetitive skill sets[8], it is a requirement.  In most direct skill sets[9], it is trained. In fact, more than other skills that rely upon direct repetition, Sensory memory is a primary function of how the performing and most fine arts work.

The process a performing artist uses is usually to apply the memory retained by either synesthetic indirect recall, or direct recall of data.  But then, the artist by employing alternate senses to make it happen. First the chef sees a shape or color in her memory, and then or simultaneously recalls the smell and look of a recipe.  The actor may see a change of figures on a line moving through time, and then recalls the voice heard in his head, when he read the dialogue.  A musician may recall a specific flow of waves, that triggers the touch of her instrument playing a specific piece of music, or a jazz musician may be prompted to create new melody-rhythmic ideas.  These artists are usually not aware of this process, because once on stage, the audience becomes the ignition to start the process by which s/he will be performing.  But, then the SCR must take hold.

For classical dancers, the process follows a specific pattern: Dancers feel how they look.  This continues as s/he hears how s/he moves.  This continues as s/he sees the space in which s/he moves, and becomes cohesive as s/he speaks beyond the space where s/he moves to others.  For all performers, the process is similar.


Learning Styles:

Specific to Classical Ballet and a few other codified dance forms, there are specific written and oral semantics, mostly in French, describing the semiotic language of balletic positions and movements, since the dance form was codified in the mid 17th century. (See Balletic Taxonomy).  Fully trained dancers can be verbally instructed what a sequence of movements. However, if there is a more contemporary movements or positions involved, the verbal transmission is not enough.  Then, even in full classicism, when setting a “combination” or choreographic sequence, dancers can learn it visually by physical demonstration by the same artistic staff. Either way, each dancer’s use of sensory memory patterning and learning styles will be employed to then explicated the movement transmitted.

One of the more recent studies is the theory of learning styles, most people dominant in two. Technically there are seven of these, also aligning with the senses or human function. (Although there are different versions. Logic is not included in some, verbal/graphics in others. Both are included here.) Most people in the west tend toward visual learning.  But, there are also aural, kinetic, graphic, logical, interpersonal / social / extraverted and solitary intrapersonal. So, it is rather easy to theorize that, for example, actors would be aural and extraverted or interpersonal, fine artists would be visual, graphic and intrapersonal, musicians aural and graphic etc. However, this is not always the case.  The fact is, most people in the west are visual learners. So, progressive education has latched on to “teaching to the student’s style.”  And, the result is a student who is imbalanced in their ability to assimilate data, knowledge and ideas.

Because memorization is an important aspect of the balletic skillset, certainly balancing learning styles is key. Dance is not the only one. Some sports like figure skating, synchronized swimming and gymnastics, restaurant cooks, accounting, clerics, some attorneys and physicians. There are variety of learning styles and uses that specific senses foregrounded over others. One might believe that being a visual learner would be the best asset a dancer could have It is a good asset, but it is far from the most immediate in importance. Why? A dancer cannot see how they look or move! They have to feel how they look, and they have to hear how they move, because phrasing is required to achieve the aesthetic . What this means is, the dancer must have a sense of what they look like without seeing themselves. And, they have to know in time how they move, maintaining the positions and shapes they move between and through.

Yes: classical dancers have to know the visual and musical aesthetic of a dancer. And the gain that skill through observation and visual and aural training….and that’s just the point:  They have to know and embody the fact that, the eyes that see them are everyone but their own. Yes, they have to know the coordination of their movement, but that is primarily guided by a sense of rhythm and/or music when they move. Are there other senses involved?  Of course! But, what we think as observers of people are not necessarily the primary senses used in the process.

Interoception A dancer feels her shape.  This internal feeling is interoception. This means that they are using the felt and aural senses as actionable.  The dancer is self-involved.  Note, this inner-work-in-training takes up much of a student-dancer’s time; it never stops. Further, it is a continual part of a professional adult dancer’s life. A dancer has to learn what it is to be a dancer from the inside-out, but as they grow, to know sensorily how they are perceived by an audience from the outside in.

The need to sense what it is to assimilate the shape and movement of a dancer, also effects the student’s identity as “dancer.” This occurs as the dancer becomes familiar with dance culture, political structures, social standing as well as self-esteem and confidence. Because the optimal years for training are the pre-teen to teen years, it is a fragile time for a young person to develop a healthy relationship with family, other children and student dancers, their studies in dance, regular academics, life decisions, (including whether they want or should pursue a career in dance) and the illusive “leisure time.” “Illusive” because, if the child has the talent and drive to become a dancer, he or she is spending 35 hours a week training and rehearsing in dance, not including academics, sewing pointe shoes, cross training etc. Like any art form dance training is a full-time career.


Once a dancer senses “Shape,” They must learn to move between two positions (shapes), or through positions to complete a phrase. (a1). The positions a dancer has learned must be put into motion in time. To begin to move, initiated by the aural sense  and the rhythm it perceives, is guiding their interoceptive awareness expanding into an exteroceptive awareness of the area around them.  So, the dancer becomes aware of space mostly by the music that drives that. Simultaneously, as the dancer’s movement across space is learned, through the visual sense, the awareness of special dynamics, of balance, gravity, objects and other performers in space is learned and perfected.  The dancer’s awareness of space becomes a necessity for them to take the line and positions into animation in space, so movement becomes a cohesive musical phrase in conjunction with the space, and what else is occurring within it. This must be mastered if the dancer is going to employ her or his craft on stage developing performity as the self-actualized portion of their skill.


Performity: Self as Observer

So, all training leads to the next level in a dancer’s development. Learning repertoire and new ballets and dances to be performed. When a dancer begins her training, it is often with the idea that she is appeasing a desire “to be a dancer.”  It is self identity. He is developing the love for his craft.  As the dancer gains skill in the techniques of dance and ballet, the desire to show it off, and place it in front of an audience takes hold.  And this is a part of that progressive stage.

In the rehearsal room, the young dancer learns the spatial skills necessary to negotiate where their place is onstage, in relationship to self and other dancers and partners are seeing in relations to where she is in phrasing usually with music.  And, as they begin to learn the ballet repertoire, they start to understand what it is like to give of that to an audience.  


The dancer learns and develops aesthetic nuance. S/he discovers and reveals the form as not just a pretty picture to the audience, but as meaning for an artistic presentation, woven into form similar to classical poetics. In this case it is presented through semiosis[11]. The moving symbols or “kinetic semiosis,9” or using movement and shape in time to communicate narrative or feeling to the audience.  If performed well, can be “heard” as mindfully as words on a page, and as vociferously as a poem read to an audience. 

Once a dancer develops the confidence in herself to perform, a crucial threshold that is all too often not addressed neither by pedagogues in schools, nor staff in ballet companies: the dancer is no longer performing only because “they love to dance.” Rather, they are performing to give that love selflessly to an audience.

Self-consciousness rarely makes for a good performance. It is the focus on self that young dancers must work to overcome. This is not the same as nervousness or excitement that performers experience before or during a show.  Many artists experience anxiety about giving a good performance, and often this is because they are concerned about giving the best performance they can. However, many performers discuss how a performance is best when it is selfless. Most mature performers talk about this being “in the zone.” 

Flow: A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”[12]  This quote is from a psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist who examined the states of people who gained such mastery over doing what they loved that they “lose themselves in the experience.”  There are many artist performers who experience this state. Some athletes reference this as “being in the zone.”

There is evidence that many performers experience this, particularly the performers who are not considered the best.  Many are chorus, ensemble and corps de ballet dancers, bit players in film and theatre, and minor artists of all sorts. This evidenced by the fact that in musicals and dance, the ensembles perform two to three times as much as the principals and leads, with a fraction of the pay, but continue with performing arts as a career.


In brief. A mature trained artist and performer expands from internalizing the feel and shape of his body, and hears the rhythm that guides his movement, to sensing the stage space and finally expands to and often beyond his audience. He does this everyday repeatedly and often simultaneously.

So, the need to balance the sensory input and output of a classical dancer (albeit most dance and artistic forms),has been to train towards all “learning styles” as well as the dominant style of each individual student. In general, dancers tend have a high visual dominant learning profile, only secondary to kinetic sometimes, extraverted, or social learning profiles. But the neglect of the lessor dominant senses across populations  must also be equal to the intrahaptic felt-sense, the aural and performative (commonly known as “graphic” in other applications) sense.  So it is imperative that pedagogues are aware of the weaker senses and instruct in ways that build all of them equally. In dance, particularly in ballet and balletic culture, there are very specific cross-sensorial/behavioral needs to accommodate the art form.

The dancer observes through seeing and hearing what s/he is being given to learn. Thereafter, the dancer feels and hears (music) the phrase or continuity of what s/he is putting into motion. Upon assimilation, the dancer then sees the space s/he has be assigned to put into kinesis, and lastly, once the dancer has learned the choreography and understands the work, s/he narrates reverses the space to communicate that because the proscenia space to the observer audience. 

These are the four levels of kinetic understanding that a dancer goes through that relate two more senses separately through the learning to performance process. (See “the Four Stages” table below.) Note, that it is slower and more defines when training young dancers because the training helps build those neuropathways towards synesthetic performance.  Once that process has ended, the student has developed a high level of the embodiment required to make a student (“learning”) or an entry level performer. (“performity”). Because a fully trained adult performer will go through these simultaneously. A fully trained dancer:

1. Either embodied the positions as per the classical structures of ballet, or assimilated the positions and shapes the choreographer has created.

2. Embodies the movements to the music and rhythms of the classical combinations of movement, or again, the kinesis and rhythms a choreographer has created.

3. Understands the “Staging” of the ballet or choreography and embodies an awareness of the space, the objects, people and nature of the production.

4. Is more concerned with putting it all together as a performance and production, relies on his training and experience to perform without having to think of technique or aesthetic, rather simply dances to communicate all to the observing public. Embodies the dance to give to others selflessly.





Four Stages of Kinetic Assimilation and Sensorial Embodiment



(SCR) & Synesthetics


Feeling Positions: How the dancer Feels creates Appearance. Interoception: Embodying Local Haptic Space. (“Reach Space” and Somatic)

Feeling relates to Sight. Seeing seeing the shape and form of position externally. Then command: first, Sight, from demonstration, second Aural from verbalization: Are both from Observation of command. (Dancer observes & assimilates positions and movements) (Cognition: Visualization).


Visual (and Aural) sense is transformed into Haptic or Felt Sense, Performity.  (also Solitary/Introverted, Intrinsic,)


The dancers’ internal bodily feeling of how he looks. Effects what the audience sees.Dancer Observes Self

Hearing Time: What the dancers hears (in the music), effects their movement, position to position/shape to shape.Embodying Expanded Aural Space (Somatic & beyond “Reach Space”)


Kinetics relates to Hearing: Dancer is in sync and part of Music, rhythm & phrasing. As well as Verbalization & Sight from external spoken & demonstration: Are both from Observation of command. (Dance observes & assimilates movements and positions) (Cognition: Visualization)


Aural sense is transformed into Kinetic learning/performity.   (also introverted, Intrapersonal)

Hears drives the Rhythm of how he moves as the audience sees it in relation to the music. Effects what the audience sees in time.Dancer Observes Self in Action.

Seeing Space: What the dancer sees on stage, (“Staging”)  space or rehearsal studio (locality of performance) of dance, effects their balance and sense of self, as well as the dancer’s and use of Space and part of the productionExteroception into Intersubjectivity.: Embodying Local Space

Sight relates to Proprioception (Cognition: Full Awareness of Space, objects and other performers). Spatial sense is transformed into Visual learning/performity.  (also Extraverted, Social/ Interpersonal)


The dancer sees the space of the stage and the other dancers to present symmetry (or anti-symmetry) in coordination of design.  Adjusts to what the audience sees.

Dancer Observes Self in relation to others on stage (proximity)

Speaking Dance: Spatial Awareness of Stage/Performance Space and Audience as Communication. Sense of “beyond self.” “Selflessness.” InterSubjectivity into Inter-Corporeality Embodying Expanded Space

Mutual Observation

Spatial Awareness (proprioception) relates to Speech. Beyond Proscenial Space.

(Cogntion: Full Awareness of Audience and Self-Dissociation) Visual, Aural into Kinetic sense Performative and performity.  (also Extraverted, Social/Interpersonal)


The dancer(s) use the proscenium to communicate the movement into meaning or feeling to the audience. The dancer(s) expand their work beyond self. Presents what the audience sees. Dancer Acts in Relation to others onstage in reference to the Audience. Dancer Observes Acting Self to others beyond space Audience-beyond proscenium.



Sensory Embodiment for the Dancer: Through control, the dancer uses up to all four of the levels of SCR, Synesthetics and corresponding Visualizations, often simultaneously to create the illusion of “dancer” on stage. Often In this construct these four are:

First, Shape: Feeling Positions.  Creating and refining the balletic shapes / positions of the body. First, the dancer feels his body and the positions she or he is moving between or through.  This provides the glossary of balletic movement. 


Second, Musical Phrasing: Hearing Time, moving the body across space linking these positions or more.  the choreography and music and propels his/her body in space. This provides the phrases, sentences, and grammar of ballet.

Third, Proprioception: Seeing Space, the dancer’s proprioceptive awareness in and of the space they are moving in whether it be a studio, a stage or place-specific environment. Third, the dancers see the space around them, and this provides the ability to use syntax, semiotic, narrative and/or feeling of not just their dancing, but the whole production. 

Fourth, Performed Communication: Speaking Dance: how the dancer relates kinetic meaning by the use of that space, into the space of the audience. How a dancer perceives his or her body and the world beyond themselves, is what identifies their level of skill and ability to communicate in kineto-semiotics and using the body to communicate beyond the proscenium arch to an audience. The dancer speaks through kinesis, projecting to the audience communicating either narrative or abstraction to the observer audience.

Normal human kinetic behavior uses the senses directly for what they are intended: We use sight to see where we’re going.  We use internal feelings to know how to balance, stand, walk, etc.  Further, when one person is speaking to another who is listening and holding conversation, it is implicit, using any shared specific language. We are aware of the space around us. Any sense of performity is simply being who we are having a conversation. We are having mostly a non-intentional performative discussion; just two folks talking.  The difference between that and performative human behavior is that intentional performity is explicit and meant to be extended towards an attending and present public, as in a lecture, presentation, show or production. Our dialogue isn’t random or specific, as is the dialogue between the dancer and the repetiteur, choreographer, play-write or composer. Rather, it’s to communicate to third party, the audience.


The use of sensory cross-referencing in performance of balletic kinetics is an imperative. The dancer uses the intra-haptic felt sense, aural sense, spatial sense and the expands beyond the senses each uses a dominant sense to self-observe, shape, morph and communicate to the audience. Though the senses used for this purpose are aligned with both conceptual human realities and tangible forms the dancer is in a constant process of expanding away from the idea of “one-self.”   Though it is always the dancer’s body that is the tool of composition to be presented to the audience, it is as if the dancer is in a chrysalid or metamorphic process: the performer expanding into the observer audiences’ world.

In the Beginning, the Classroom.

A classroom is the room where a lesson happens. This is important to state because so many in the balletic field forget it. There is an idea of students “taking” and teachers “giving” “a class,” and this simply is not true unless it takes place inside of an educational atmosphere.


The transmission of balletic data and information is imparted in several ways.  But, it is a dialectic involving several parties.  The students and teacher and possibly other demonstrating dancers. This is important, because even as adult professionals, this process will be similar to the rehearsal and reportorial learning process when a student learns choreography or rehearsal classical repertoire.  And, this to is simultaneous, but with an emphasis on one process at a  time.  First a dancer has to learn the positions, then how to move between then through them in rhythm and phrasing. It is very much about the students working with their bodies, to learn dance and ballet.

First the correct attribute of a position is verbally named.  The student is shown that position by the instructor or demonstrator. They are also instructed physically how to make those positions.  The student then attempts to make that position.  The teacher corrects the students manually if allowed.  And this is repeated.

, the sensory array used to instruct balletically, beginning here with positions, later, applying the music to guide them to move between positions and then moving through positions is communicated from a second party as: a) command based: verbal aural with cadence, and music b) demonstrable: visual, c) manual: haptic tactile d).  As the student progresses, this process will continue and expand.

Developing a habitual practice, ability towards self-instruction and critical thinking.

In this process a student will unknowingly be experimenting with their “felt sense,” applying what they have seen and heard are based upon specific unchangeable principles[13], that govern what these positions are. (Turnout, verticality/aplomb, balance, Feet pointed/plantar flexed when free, becoming free, or returning to the floor[14] .etc.). Eventually, a young dancer may understand the feeling of the position that is correct that makes it work balletically.  But, most importantly, they can feel it when it is incorrect.  When a youth is capable of knowing the difference by sensing the positions, they will have achieved a major hurdle all dancers of prowess must possess throughout their lifetime: the ability to self-instruct.

Once dancers correctly mature to the feeling, based upon those principles. (IE: Turnout pointed feet, the vertical line affected by turnout, correct positions de bras, etc.)  Once these are memorized and embodied, they will then have a better understanding how they move between those positions). This process will continue throughout their training, and careers as dancers. Because most students will go on to other endeavors than dance, this ability to self-correct and self-instruct will become a habit of cognizant interoceptive critical thinking, (self-refection, ability to question one’s own beliefs, and self-examination through practice.  It is a skill that is invaluable and cannot be done unless the dancer is practicing that skill progressively and repetitively over the years.

However, most young students just want to learn what to do. They want to learn to dance.  All the reasoning and principles behind what they are doing are secondary to learning “to be a dancer.” Most young students are not mature enough to be concerned with why they’re learning about what they are doing; they simply want to dance. So, in the early years of training, young students simply follow the and syllabus within the structure of a curriculum. The more advanced reasonings of structure, line, communication to an audience etc. manifest simply as their love for the form and then to show that love to their pedagogues and ultimately, the audience. 

Once students master the positions, (and in progression, moving between and through the positions), their curiosity might cause them to know deeper reasonings of the principles. Then they might find it a bit easier to learn more.  As students mature, they wholistically assemble the body into positions. These positions are inclusive of arms, legs, crown of head through the spine into the sacrum and coccyx.  The positions are then placed in space relative to the audience specifically focused upon proscenium[15]

As dancers learn to understand underlying aesthetic function for these positions, as they learn to move these positions, thy will begin to understand main principle of [16]line. To create the line from the center of the dancer’s body through their six extremities[17], all the data cumulate must be fully assimilated. This process of line is first established through mastering the feeling of the positions of ballet.

Balletic Taxonomy

Ballet has codified almost three hundred basic positions codified in the genre. Each position functions as a visual taxonomy or word.  Further, Classical Ballet is one of the few kinetic forms where there is a complete terminology for the taxonomy of positions, movements and whole combinations of movements, which apply descriptor words, (usually French), to each specific base position. There are also terms for movements, “steps,” and phrases covered in the next chapters. 

Most positions and movements can be codified into two groups.  Static positions that display line and meaning held in space, stationary, or holding a pose, known as “pose’.”  These are resultant positions at the end of a phrase, (covered in the next two chapters).  Second, there are causal positions created to move to (one position, a movement, and another position) or through positions to create a phrase All movements, steps, and phrases of movements are made up of these positions. Once the positions are achieved the dancer can then learn to move them to create movements and steps from the sublime to the bravura in technique.

Basic Balletic Functions of a Dancers Body

What is also apparent as how the function of balletic combinations work within the use of causal and resultant movements and positions, is that the body can create tension and contraction using contrasting movements to create potential energy or prepare for a movement of force, (IE left arm moves in Reach Space counter to right leg) and then they can move in harmony to create a certain movement. (IE the left arm and right leg swings into reach space to create kinetic energy, such as a turn.). Note that ballet uses its verbal and written taxonomy to describe this process. Ballet requires that movements that are ipsilateral combine with counter later motion to make the art form technically function.


- Ballet is first the study of positions with the body in space.

- Ballet is then the study of how to move between and through positions of the body in space using rhythm.

- Ballet is the study of how to move in space extending musical phrasing interacting with objects and other performers.

- Ballet is the study how to move the body beyond space timelessly for an observer audience.(a1).


1.    Dancers Feel How They Look.

- Ballet is first the study of positions with the body in space.

Intra- Haptics, Proprioceptive Body, Visual Formation & Interoceptics: “Feeling how one looks” is conceptual.  But the feeling is rooted in Intra-haptic (“inner touch”/ Interoceptive cognition (“internal body” “perceived awareness of the internal body”).  Intra-haptics: a dancer internally has to feel the shapes s/he is making with their body and the subsequent morphosis that are created when put into motion. This feeling also depends upon visualization and aural memory of the shape one is in moving between or through.  This “Felt-Sense” (Gendlin) is the command center for every dancer’s function while dancing.  The reasoning for this is based in the corporal grammar the audience can see and read in the dancer. [18]The dancer cannot see how they look as they dance. They have to know intrinsically and precisely what their explicit body will present to the audience. This is the basis for embodiment of shape in ballet.  

This is the initial formation of the abstract concept of “line” in ballet which is integral to both the techniques the dancer engineers to make positions and subsequent movements, but also is the ultimate arbiter of the quality of the dancer which s/he must “feel” in order to achieve.


Intra-Haptics Visual and Aural Observation & Assimilation of Balletic Shape:


Mature dancers must rely upon internally feeling how they appear to their observer audience. The rely upon this sense, to know that the shape/position they have created is aligned with the codification of position The best external informative for dancers is observation to other dancers.  Then attempting to visualize the shapes (positions) they need to perfect with consistent practice.  However, dancers cannot see how they look at most given times.

There are tools dancers can use to assist this process.  The tradition of observation of reflection in a mirror, helps, but is still limited in what it can provide the dancer.  Film and video in retrospect are great tertiary tools to self-instruct, but they still cannot replace the reality of what an audience sees. Pedagogues and coaches are there to demonstrate and then assist help the dancer feel their positioning, as well as movements. Ultimately, it is the dancer who will sense the positions so that s/he can create the specificity of positions a dancer is required to expose. Young students must first visually observe, audibly be directed and instructed on the shape and position they are to learn.  Then they “try it.”  The student stands to perform it and is then corrected by their pedagogue from there.


There are two different but intersecting forms of felt sense. One that leans towards the somatic or physical cognitive, and the other that leans towards cognitive or psychical. In the case of ballet and dance, we begin with the physical. As stated above, young students simply wish to learn the physical ideal of dancing, as it fulfills ego and self-esteem, and as a way to make themselves feel good as they gain more ability.  Then second, as the dancer gains maturity, s/he will begin to understand more about the expression to be beyond this simple physical and enters the realm of expression and projection towards others.

Felt Sense as Embodied Somatic Feeling.“The processing, representation, and perception of bodily signals (interoception) plays an important role for human behavior. Theories of embodied cognition hold that higher cognitive processes operate on perceptual symbols and that concept use involves reactivations of the sensory-motor states that occur during experience with the world. Similarly, activation of interoceptive representations and meta-representations of bodily signals supporting interoceptive awareness are profoundly associated with emotional experience and cognitive functions.” [19]

“A felt sense is not (only) a mental experience but a physical one. Physical: A bodily awareness of a situation or person or event. An internal aura that encompasses everything you feel and know about the given subject at a given time-encompasses it and communicates it to you all at once rather than detail by detail. A felt sense doesn’t come to you in the form of thoughts or words or other separate units, but as a single (though often puzzling and very complex) feeling.” [20]

Today, we call this embodiment. Embodiment can be viewed from the objective Cartesian view that the brain controls the body, but the brain is independent of the body, cannot be applied here. The brain is an organ and though the master control of the body, is therefore integral as a part of it. The objective distinction between the body and the thinking brain is purely bio-functional. That neurologically, the brain can learn codified functions in practice and through repetition, imprint the process, and attain skill. But this leaves the subject – the person out of the picture.  Subjectively, the actor- and observer selves view the world and what they are doing in it, quite differently than the simple objective view of “self.”  The study of any skill set virtually disproves that the brain and thought, cannot affect control over its agency of body. When training and practice is added to this, the dancer becomes imbedded with either foundational concepts, positions, or a movement pattern, because it doesn’t require conscious awareness to be demonstrated. 

The use of this internal feeling based upon what a performing artist has learned from witnessing other dancers, oneself in mirrors, but moreover, by transmission of knowledge by teachers, coaches, regisseurs and repetiteurs, is key to gaining this embodiment in creating positions that produce the linear effect each position requires. The same holds true for internalizing balletic concepts and movement patterns.

When that skill becomes innate, (habitual, beyond thought), then the skill is totally embodied. This is when the dancer thoughts have no need to think about or stay present while dancing. This is when the dancer can dissociate and let the body do the work. Healthy dissociation is key to great performances.  The dancer can visualize what they are performing and is attached to the process of speaking to his/her audience.  This is when a high level of mastery is in place. 

Note: This same embodied process occurs in moving between and through positions, becomes innate and are repeated daily as the dancer matures, into their professional years. They are no longer students, and tend to work with ballet masters and regisseurs, as well as when retraining teachers and coaches.

However, embodiment is more inclusive of the subjective idea of self, and how that sense of self dissolves as their skill in performance increases.  A dancer connects with the variety of factors; body, senses, space, purpose of skill: what the dancer believes a dancer is, is what the dancer will become. The feeling a dancer must cognitively assemble her or his corpus into a specificity of position, is more than “figuring it out.”  It is embodying it as a cohesive whole.  It is becoming the dance itself, communicating the semiotic language (“perceptual symbols”) to the audience who has come to “see what dance has to say.” In this, dancers must start with who they are: a “Thinking Body” (Mabel Todd).


2. Dancers Hear How They Move

- Ballet is second, the study of how to move between and through positions of the body in space using rhythm.

Aural Sense: “Hearing How One Moves” is conceptual, because for most dancers, the music and rhythm guide them moving from one position to another or through a series of position, forms or morphoses. The Aural Sense moves the dancers conscious focus upon the interoception into more exteroceptive awareness. The link from position to movement in place or moving across transverse space becomes extra-haptic in space.[21]The dancer takes the felt-sense of visualized shape, and morphs it using time (music) to animate the body.  Space is important of course, but the aural component is the initiator of movement in and with the body in most dance.  

Tangibly, the dancer uses their experience and education of the positions (especially in classical ballet), or in the shapes the choreographer demonstrates and verbally describes, using the music as the kinesis, guide and motivation to perform the required movement.  This process requires the dancer to “hear the way the move” in space. In this second section, we will be discussing how the abstract concept of the forms of “line” that morphs and in time, creating the syntax the dancer communicates to their audience. (Note: there are exceptions with the deaf and dances without music or sound/ However almost invariably, rhythm and dynamics will still be the motivation for kinesis.)


Auditory - Kinetic Morphotic Exteroception:

The dancer has learned to create the shapes, or pose’s or positions of ballet. S/he has assimilated this by using the senses of hearing and seeing.  There is an intersubjective relationship between a dancer and his/her instructor/coach.  (Note that his is the first intersubjective relationship. The second is with the audience.) A skilled instructor will verbally repeat the names of the positions, and then demonstrate or have a competent demonstrating student assistant “show” the position.  So, first the dancer observes and listens. Then the dancer “tries” the shape of that position and then is corrected the external manual correction (tactile) by the instructor (if allowed), demonstrable repeating the visual correction, and verbal correction.  As the dancer grows, his body adapts, his mind builds the neuropathway assigning the correct position.

Then the teacher repeats the same sequence teaching the student how to move between two already assimilated positions[22]. The student then repeats it moving from one position to another. (IE fifth positions right foot front: battement tendu on count 1, fermé to fifth position count 2.)  In instructing this way, the student has learned to move between one position to another, assimilating a simple phrase: the dancer feels how s/he looks and hears through the music as a guide, how and when she moves between those positions.  Two levels of synesthesia are built in this process: The dancer maintains the felt-sense in sensing and feeling the positions, that now change and morph, as she is guided through rhythm to another.


A student dancer has learned to “morph” codified balletic positions, engaging simple kinetics using time as an assist. A static position is energized by connecting with time to allowing life to come into the dancer.  In this the dancer hears the movement and responds, moving simply between two learned positions.  As with correcting positions from there, the instructor will use verbal correction and command, usually in time with the music, and if needed and allowed, use manual correction, engaging external haptics to guide the dancer as s/he moves. Note that touch, manual or extra-haptic correction , encourages intra-haptic feeling (“felt-sense”) to assimilate the data, now inclusive of simple phrasing and usually even rhythm, and simple kinetics. 


As a student learns these short “position A to position B, and back to A” phrasing repeated, is expanded upon has moving between positions, become longer phrases involving more complexity. Note: as with Intra-haptics or “Felt-Sense,” these skills become innate and are repeated daily as the dancer matures, into their professional years, if they that is their career choice.


Classroom: Continuing from the dancer feeling how they move, the dancer has to be instructed to hear how they move, and this is taught mostly through sound.  a) The instructor verbally cadences in rhythm their instructions upon how to move between positions, and the how to move in a phrase through positions. b) From the first lesson, the instructor incorporates music from a pianist or recorded music c) demonstrable: visual. The use of manual instruction is minimized, and an assistant who is fully trained, or the instructor herself may “show” the combination of movement, visually exemplifying corrections.





3. Dancers See the Space Where They Move.

- Ballet is the study of how to move in space extending musical phrasing.


Visual Sense. “Seeing Space to know where to move.” Dancers use their eyes to witness dance, usually when they are not dancing – they are then an educated audience. But when embodied in dance within their performance, they are connected with them to be in concert with others in the space, other objects in the space, but most importantly the space itself.

Getting to know and assimilate the stage space is a pragmatic. The dancer has Negotiating the width and breath of the stage. During stage rehearsals including technical and dress rehearsal.

At this point, the dancer is not only exteroceptively aware, but extends from their continual intra-haptic state into an awareness of the space where they are moving. The eyes are used for various purposes in this context. Tangibly, the eyes and vision see and assess the space, using recall to know where to move in that space.[23] and help with the intra-haptic sense to establish balance and gravitational vertical. They also can just where and to move, as their auditory sense carries them.  The visual sense help make spatial adjustments, correct patterning of movement, and adapt to any unforeseen change, such as one’s own or other dancers’ mistakes, properties in the wrong place etc. (These things happen!). But conceptually, the dancers use their eyes, and a trained extra-sense of “feeling space” around them but also though them, so that they may use that space to draw the observer audience’s attention, not just to themselves, but to the whole container of the proscenium arch, or place-specific space where they are performing.

Now that the dancer is on stage or in rehearsal, the dancer needs to develop a sense of presence. “Being in the moment” may sound cliché’ but it is imperative to the craft we that underpins our art form.  We must maintain presence of mind to know what we are doing onstage, and then project to our audience. 

This stage of Spatial Awareness combines the interoceptivity of feeling how the body looks, with the expanding awareness of hearing how it moves in space and reveals extroceptively as taking the feeling and rhythm of dance and organizing it in space. 

While the dancer is training to feel the foundations of balletic position, driven by music to move, the dancer becomes presently aware of where they are moving.  “Right mindfulness does not simply mean being aware; it is like creating a work of art.You can therefore trust what you are doing; you are not threatened by anything. You have room to dance in the space, and this makes it a creative situation. The space is open to you.” -Chogyam Trunpga[24]

Rehearsal:Where all this begins for stage is in the rehearsal room. When staging a ballet the rehearsal room and who is in it is key.  The regisseur or repetiteur teaches a classic, or a choreographer creates a new on.  There is the musician or a recording and a room full of dancers.  There is often a sense of chaos as ensembles are arranged, confusion is cut through and eventually a cohesion of composition is exposed.  Nevertheless the rehearsal room becomes a surrogate for the stage.  This is where the dancer become more extrinsically, and externally oriented working in space.  The dancer extends the internal training of feeling shape and being guided by the music extended to see the space and its aspects and work within those confines. 

“I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all is for an act of theatre to be engaged.” Peter Brook, Empty Space[25]

4. Dancers Move to Speak in Space.

- Ballet is the study how to move the body beyond space timelessly for an observer audience.

Kinetic Sense: Dancers Communicate to the Observer Audience: The most important step in a performers career is to learn that what they are presenting, what they do in that space is not about them. Rather, the dancer performer’s craft is to take the love for their craft to an audience.  It is the purpose of a performing artist to give to present and communicate with clarity, whatever specific or abstract statement they are tasked to make to the audience. This is the essence of being in service to their art form. 

As a dancer matures, they begin to let go of the concept of “self.”  This is the strongest point to helping students and dancers know that “what they do for love” is not about them but sending their love to the observer audience. This is no different than those who work in other areas service or industry who has prided themselves in what they do.

At this point, dancers recognize that all those pliés are part of an ecstatic ritual, that goes beyond routine, beyond the interspace where they’ve learned positions and movements, it goes beyond the idea of tricks or great technique, rather into know that dance is the field they have developed skill and excellence. This is as true for corps de ballet dancers as it is great etoile. 


The ultimate selfless act a performing artist does (or should do) when plying their work on the boards, is to imprint an impression or idea to their observers.  Ultimately, the production can transform its audience, and leaves them wanting to see more.  The dancer draws from all three sensory aspects and puts them together as a cohesive whole; that is kinetic speech. 

-       First, the dancer feels his body and the positions she or he is moving between or through.  This provides the glossary of balletic movement. 

-       Second, the dancer hears the movement and assembles it into the phrasing provided by the choreography and music and propels his/her body in space. This provides the phrases, sentences, and grammar of ballet.

-       Third, the dancers see the space around them, and this provides the ability to use syntax, semiotic, narrative and/or feeling of not just their dancing, but the whole production. 

-       And lastly the dancer speaks through kinetic semiosis, projecting to the audience communicating either narrative or abstraction to the observer audience.


In this process, the dancer also becomes less and less involved with him or herself as a dancer, and more about selfless and altruistic in giving to the audience. This is a kind of socialization process known in neuropsychology as ‘inter-corporeally: the embodied connection with others.  This inter-corporeality comes with close relationships with others.  But in the performing arts, there is a form of temporary para-social relationship[26]: the separation by an invisible barrier between the audience and performer’s world, the proscenium.[27]

When this relationship with the audience is achieved, the artist’s work stops being about them. From the bodily felt sense, in conjunction with the aural sense tied to visual sense, to the kinetic drive, a fully realized self-actualized dancer actor or musician, may become so completely unified in body, they can dissolve “self” as soon as the curtain rises. The dancer in a sense, allows the space to assimilate the dancer, inviting the audience to take their consciousness into the space and world the performer has created in performance.  When successful, this should leave those in the audience who were fully engaged in the performance, to be cognitively transformed by the experience.


5. The Audience Feels what it Sees and Hears.

The Rabble Responds!

Years after your visit to the rose garden, where you saw and smelled the rose, you walk into a theatre. You purchase a ticket to see a ballet and go to your seat.  The curtain rises.  You see a bright stage with sets and people with costumes moving. They are dancers are moving to the music.  You see the dancers.  You probably don’t know what the dance is about, but it certainly captures your curiosity. So, you attend a few more performances, and you begin to understand that the dancers are conveying a story or creating beautiful moving shapes and pattern, a lot like language. The dancers as speaking, and you are listening, but again, with different senses. Then a seed of understanding language sprouts in your heart, because there is a continuity of movement and steps, similar to how a painter paints, but now set into motion by the music. You notice that they are actually communicating to the audience, often with prowess, because the steps they are performing seem difficult, but their speech is crystal clear. As if written on a page of beautiful paper, which is the stage , lighting and costumes, supported by the music that drives their dialogue across the proscenium arch to you and the rest of the audience.

One evening, you attend a performance, watching the dancers move to the music, there is something you see that captures your imagination, it’s like a slap to wake you up.  You begin to feel oddly emotional, and you can’t figure out why.  But, you notice that the dance triggers a memory of the rose garden. You realize that the music they are dancing to is similar to the tune the rose brought up in your memory all those years ago.  All of a sudden, while watching you begin to see the dancer’s vocabulary. You may not be able to translate their dance into words, but you can feel what the dancers are conveying. In fact, the melody might inspire you to dance yourself. This experience links you with the dancer-performers. You start to feel connected as you see and feel more in every performance you attend. And, you may just want to attend a beginning ballet class yourself to find out what its all about. (Sorry to say, its not all roses and memories…it’s a lot of hard work!)


As dancers must feel positions and hear the music, the audience sees the positions, movements and production they create, and hears the music as the rhythm they move to.  But as the dancers must see the space they dance, so does the audience.  But when the audience witnesses the dancers communicating with them, there is an intersubjective co-agency of feeling, that links the dancers and production with the audience, and the audience shares with applause to the dancers, but also an unstated shift as being moved by the ballet.

Now, of course this won’t be true for most in the audience.  But some will “get it.”  The audience are like the two people having a conversation.  Synesthetic and semiotic conveyance aren’t necessary for the audience to observe a dancer performance.  The audience uses their direct senses to perceive the ballet. But, performers have to cross-reference their sensory usage to use their somatic linguists to extra-haptically “touch” the audience across the proscenium arch.



The discipline of Classical Ballet or any art form, is reliant upon its performing artists to have honed an interactive sensorial array from their training throughout a usually professional career in the art form.  Just for a ballerina to balance standing on one leg en pointe, requires the strength and training mentioned above to achieve. Once a dancer or any performer has learned to apply the refined technique and method with the aesthetics of their art form and craft, habitually and without thinking, they are then capable of communicating with an audience on a through a presentation of feeling.  It is not an easy path.  It requires an altruistic intent.  And, this form of communication can only be achieved if the artist realizes that it is a self-less task. For this reason, a self-centered society will never allow dancers to get financially rich. But, it will endow those with real dedication to be enriched by what they have given to the audience. And that real dedication can only be achieved through the dancer’s embodiment of their senses.



Appendix A:

Performing Dancer to Observer Audience Dialectic.

i. Feeling to Appearance.  Listening to Command results in Moving Shape (position). Feeling Moving Shape in Interior Space relates to Observer’s Sight, The dancer feels how he looks to an audience.  (In training and/or rehearsal.  The observer are the artistic staff.)

ii. Hearing relates to Moving Shape in Exterior Space, What the dancer Hears drives the Rhythm of how he moves as the audience sees it in relation to the music. The dancer hears how he moves to an observer audience. (In training and/or rehearsal.  The observer are the artistic staff.)

iii. Visual and Aural Spatial Awareness to Spatial kinetics beyond personal (“reach”) Space.  Sight relates to Spatial Cognizance within Time. The dancer sees and hears phrasing as command to move in space, (performance stage), in synchronicity with the other dancers and objects present. The Observer sees and hears organized space in time.  (In training and/or rehearsal but also during performance). The observers are both audience and the artistic staff.)

iv. Space to Speech. Speech relates to Observer.  The dancer(s) use the proscenium to communicate the movement into meaning for the audience.  (Performance and dress rehearsals. Audience and artistic staff.) The is an intersubjective, or mutual  relationship between the audience and the dancer, meaning the two parties agree in the interaction between them.


v. Observer Audience to Performing Dancer Dialectic

Note: the first four  below are simultaneously observed. The last is intermittent and ends the performance.

i. Audience sees dance’s shape.

ii. Audience hears music and sees dancer moving shape in time.

iii. Audience sees and hears organization of composition in the whole of the production and stage.

iv. Audience feels narrative and/or abstract communication from dancers and production.

v. Audience responds at the end (and often during) the performance with applause and other responses.



Appendix B: The constructs of Classical Ballet were codified in the mid 17th century. The time of each generation of dancer after the classical period (which is generally agreed to end before or around the same period of World War One), are periods of interpretation. The Classical Period was based mostly in Moscow with other global influences from France, and a few elsewhere.n After that, ballet became an interpretation, based upon the rules of classicism. May choreographers and teachers broke with the classical tradition, creating new genre like post & neo-classicism, modernism, post modernism and contemporary expansions of the balletic ideal. To instruct the differences as well as how breaks with classicism commonly occur, these eleven structures should be recognized.

11 Aspects of Classicism

 that can be codified within any culture, utilizing any form, artistic, functional or practiced, throughout time.


1)    Classical Form has Specificity of Structure: These Structures are specific to create the overall design of the Form. The structures are designed to create a function, governed by internal rules, that serves all stakeholders and communities whose access to the form is available. Stability of form over time, outliving the lifetimes of its progenitors. Multigenerational acceptance throughout time, lineage of progeny and history of consistency of form, regardless of popularity or quantitative popular result.


2)    It has Rules & Laws: Because Classical form demands structure, it is governed by specific foundational rules, that are required to be in place to maintain that form. Those rules must not change or be changed. If they do change, that codifies itself as a separate form, evolved out of the original parent classical form. 

a) Only the foundational rules of Classical Forms are fixed. The form itself is fluid in how they may grow, operate and expand, as all of culture expands.

b) Most classical forms will have sub-genre branches of that form, evolve from it over time.  These forms have fundamental changes to the foundational rules and laws that govern the pre-generative parent form.

Consistency and specificity of rules.

                           i. These rules maintain consistency throughout history.  Accepts only new ideas and rules that enhances its form, and rejects those that negates the rules of classicism, as society and cultural progress through time and generation.  But,

                           ii. The rules leave space for new ideas and rules that do not accept classicism to evolve as separate genre and/or sub-genre, but only as long as they show signs of developing into classical forms themselves.


3)    It has Symmetry: All classical forms, regardless of cultural basis are founded in classical mathematics and physics. 

a)    The Golden Ratio, Mendlebrot, Fibronacci, etc. Form in Purity in Proportion, Line and Flow. Adherent to the Golden Ratio (1:1618033 (irrational number), and by relationship Medelbroth’s set,  Fibronacci’s sequence and the Platonic Solids.

b)    Platonic, Pythagorean and Euclidian Mathematics and others

c)    Or conversely, other repetitive complex mathematical forms.

d)    Newtonian Physics.

e)    Reason and logic establishes its function and aesthetic.


4)    It is Progressive: Each successive generation advances the form as it may evolve and grow through each era in time, but also without changing its fundamental rules.


5)    It is Timeless. Each successive generation passes the form on through advanced education and pedagogy, from journey to master level practitioners only with the experience and knowledge in an unbroken lineage of a growing number of adherents, also without changing it. This lineage is maintained and can be traced.Its use to culture, is to maintain order and cohesion to society, (this should not be minimized).


6)    It is Repeatable. The form can be repeated exactly or within the specificity of rules that form at any time in history, due to the lineage of pedagogues who maintain and transmit it to their successors. But, such exactitude is based upon the evolving culture in which it has descended. (IE the allowance for ROM of the extremities is much greater now than it was in the 19th and 20th centuries.)


7)    It Communicates: All forms, classical or otherwise, are a device to speak to the people both in and outside the culture within which it is maintained.


8)    It is Functional: All classical forms provide invaluable, necessitated, and needed service to community.


9)    It has Decorum: All classical forms maintain specific cultural forms of deportment, ritual, celebration and reverence, so that adherents maintain civility, order and a sense of mindful awareness of the place, time and purpose, in which the form is being enacted or presented.


10) It is Imperative: Over time, the form becomes imperative to the cohesiveness and survival of the society and culture within which it is maintained, even if its value is not recognized by those who understand or know little about it

Most importantly, art forms that can only evolve into classicism, or maintain as classical forms if they are based upon three principle and practices:

a)    Excellence in practice as dominant over populist appreciation, (that has no longevity of form, because the form has not stable structure to create longevity). Populism and manipulation of audience through mareting deconstructs most art forms, particular classical forms.

b)    Professionalism as practice of ability, long-term education in the form, technique, specificity of aesthetic definition, tradition and excellence over Amateurism: requires appreciation, stakeholder fantasy and marketing skills to maintain. Note: an interest by amateurs is not eschewed if seen as a support as audience for the aesthetic and technical aspects, as continual students of the form. Amateurs and society should never mistake themselves for professionals.

c)     Cooperation and collaboration of professionals. Competition and  competitive aspirations to destroy other artists, resulting in mediocre product marketed to the masses should be avoided at all costs.


11)  It creates ground for new ideas to increase its effectiveness both technically and aesthetically.

a)    Classical forms collectively know what new ideas to accept and which ideas to reject in order to maintain its purity.

b)    Some new ideas that are reclassified to become new genre, classical or otherwise, though many ideas will simply dissolve into history and memory. Culture and stagnates without a diversity of new ideas.  Often many of these forms will not last or dissolve.  This is because they lack the aesthetic strength, education and codified techniques to support the whole of society. Without a diversity of newer ideas with the support of classic ideas, classical forms decay.


Note that Folk, traditional, culturals and other non-classical dance forms of and artistidc expression and other forms,, often have many of the above characteristics, but not all of them.


Appendix C: Brief Glossary.


Anamensis: Reminiscence, or the ability to recall past experiences.2. The account of a patient or client of the antecedents and course of a disorder. 

 Dictionary of Psychology (4 ed.) Andrew M. Colman Publisher: Oxford University Press Print Publication Date: 2015 Print ISBN-13: 9780199657681. Published online: 2015. Current Online Version: 2015. eISBN: 9780191744358

Exteroception.  Any form of sensation that results from stimuli located outside the body and is detected by exteroceptors, including vision, hearing, touch or pressure, heat, cold, pain, smell, and taste.Interoception. Any form of sensation arising from stimulation of interoceptors and conveying information about the state of the internal organs and tissues, blood pressure, and the fluid, salt, and sugar levels in the blood.Publisher: Oxford University Press Print Publication Date: 2008 Print ISBN-13: 9780199534067 Published online: 2009 Current Online Version: 2014 ISBN: 9780191726828

Proprioception. The awareness of body position in space. Proprioception depends on stretch receptors detectingjoint positions. Reflex mechanisms involving these stretch receptors facilitate a coordinated muscular response to aid the stabilization of a joint. This is an important skill that can be disrupted by a joint injury and which should be considered during rehabilitation from a sports injury. See also kinaesthetic perception.Publisher: Oxford University Press Print Publication Date:2006Print ISBN-13: 9780198568506 Published online:2007 Current Online Version: 2007 eISBN: 9780191727788

Intra-Haptics and Felt-Sense: The ability to sense the body’s internal structure, where the dancer can feel the Shaping of the body. Extra-Haptics: The ability to sense the body’s movement through space. Interoception: The ability to sense the internal workings of the body, soft tissues, organ function, nerve connections, in conjunction with Felt Sense.

Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway (for example, hearing) leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway (such as vision). (Psychology Today

Footnotes & References:

) [1] Walker, L., Walker, P., & Francis, B. (2012). A Common Scheme for Cross-Sensory Correspondences across Stimulus Domains. Perception, 41(10), 1186-1192.

[2] Synesthesia a concomitant sensation, especially : a subjective sensation or image of a sense (as of color) other than the one (as of sound) being stimulated. © 2024 Merriam-Wester Dictionary. 

[3] Philip S. Rosemond “Maintaining Elite & Traditional Art & Aesthetics

in a Juvenile Culture..” 2024

[4] Banissy, Michael & Jonas, Clare & Cohen Kadosh, Roi. (2014). Synesthesia: An introduction. Frontiers in psychology. 5. 1414. 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01414.

[5] Mind mapping is a powerful technique to help you visually develop and organize ideas and information. (  In the case, of performity, it is cognizantly memorized data. It is completely visualized, a form a synthetic visualization of the balletic data and semiotic pattern, that is imprinted on the dancer’s memory. (Philip Rosemond.)

[6] “Plie” or “to bend” is the first movement learned in a ballet lesson.  It is a bending of the knees or knee when standing on one leg. It is the most important movement to create potential energy a dancer employs.

[7] Walker, P. (2016). Cross-sensory correspondences: A Theoretical framework and their relevance to music. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind and Brain, 26, 103-11

[8] Indirect repetitive skill sets are expertise that are trained directly repetitively but performed indirectly. The skill is imbedded in memory, so that it can be applied to a greater level of skill. Professional dance and ballet are a prime example of indirect use of data learned through repetition as a foundation of expanded data a performer applies to it for the stage.

[9] Direct repetitive skill sets are expertise are trained and performed the same repetitively. Most preparatory training in classical arts and humanities are trained directly repetitively. The skill is imbedded in memory, so that it can be applied to a greater level of skill. Professional dance and ballet are a prime example of Indirectly.

[10] Exteroception: noun 1. The perception of environmental stimuli acting on the body. 2.Sensitivity to stimuli originating outside of the body. - © 2024 Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 

[11] Semiosis is any activity, conduct, or process that involves signs. Signs can be communicated through thought itself or through the senses. 

[12] Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

[13] See principles of classical ballet in appendix

[14] The foot in ballet, when weight baring, is used as a second-class lever, the metatarsal is the fulcrum, the heel and ankle manage the load the load, and the gastrocnemius and tibialis muscle, among others, provides the increase and decrease in applied force.

[15] See principles of body in spatial relationship in appendix.

[16] Ligne [LEEN-yuh]. Line. “The outline presented by a dancer while executing steps and poses. A dancer is said to have a good or bad sense of line according to the arrangement of head, body, legs and arms in a pose or movement. A good line is absolutely indispensable to the classical dancer.”  Grant, Gail. Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet (Dover Books on Dance) . Dover Publications. Kindle Edition.  Note that this line is visualized by the dancer through felt sense and aural/visual sense in positions (chapt 1), rhythmic quality when in motion between positions (Chapt 2) , and extending through space as the dancers balletic gesture communicates to an audience(Chapt 3). Ligne is arguably the most important concept creatin the balletic aesthetic underneath which are its techniques.

[17] The six extremities are, the extent of both legs, both arms, the spine from cranium and the sacrum.

[18] Mirrors in dance studios are there to help correct, but ultimately, the dancer has to feel what they look like, ergo observing self-reflection is a false representation of how a dancer senses how the appear.

[19] Herbert, B.M. and Pollatos, O. (2012), The Body in the Mind: On the Relationship Between Interoception and Embodiment. Topics in Cognitive Science, 4: 692-704.

[20] Gendlin, G. (1981). Focusing (p. 33). New York: Bantam New Age Books.

[21] Reference: Randa Kassab, Frédéric Alexandre. “Integration of exteroceptive and interoceptive information within the hippocampus: a computational study.” Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, Frontiers, 2015, ฀10.3389/fnsys.2015.00087฀. ฀hal-01237876฀

[22] Note that this may be instructed while learning the positions themselves. Again, the four levels of assimilating balletic information are not sequential.  They are progressive so that combinations or “enchangement” are taught as beginning in all.  So, a student learns positions, order to be aligned with movements between and through positions, as one would

[23] Culturally, the dancers may be based in a specific place, but touring the country and world is a part of the career. So, the dancer has immediately adapted to the stage and space they are in. This is the process of proprioception.

[24] from "Artists and Unemployed Samurai" in THE TEACUP AND THE SKULLCUP: CHOGYAM TRUNGPA ON ZEN AND TANTRA. Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boston MA, London UK. © 2015

[25] Peter Brook.  TOUCHSTONE Rockefeller Center 1968 NY, NY ©

[26] Parasocial relationships refer to one-sided relationships in which a person develops a strong sense of connection, intimacy, or familiarity with someone they don’t know, most often celebrities or media personalities. (

[27] ‘Intercorporeality … becomes the main source of knowledge that we have of others. The motor simulation instantiated by neurons endowed with “mirror properties” is probably the neural correlate of this human faculty, describable in functional terms as “embodied simulation”’ ( Gallese and Cuccio 2014 : 11: Gallese V. and Cuccio V. (2015) The paradigmatic body. Embodied simulation, intersubjectivity and the bodily self. In: Metzinger. T. & Windt, J.M. (eds): Open MIND. Frankfurt: MIND Group, pp. 1-23.

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