Skip to content Skip to menu

Experimental Psychology Seminar

The art of dance as a subject for the empirical sciences


Dr. Julia F Christensen (Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt am Main, Germany)

Email: document.write("whyvn\056puevfgrafra@nr\056zct\056qr".replace(/[a-zA-Z]/g, function(c){return String.fromCharCode((c<="Z"?90:122)>=(c=c.charCodeAt(0)+13)?c:c-26);}));" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-auth="NotApplicable">


About 15 years ago, the art of dance was first explored as an exciting field of research to investigate the neural correlates of movement expertise on sensorimotor responses during action observation. However, dancers are not only high-performance athletes. They are also trained specifically in endowing their movements with emotional expressivity. I will present two studies that explore this special type of expertise. In one study, dancers’ motor expertise increased their sensitivity to others’ affective body movement. In a second study, we investigated interoception as one possible neurocognitive mechanism for emotional expertise effects. Years of dance training predicted interoceptive accuracy.  This first evidence merits detailed exploration in future research.

In the second part of my talk, I propose dance as an experimental stimulus in emotion science and I present four dance stimuli libraries that are freely available and can be used in different types of experimental paradigms, assessing emotional sensitivity in healthy adult populations of non-dancers. The ballet dance movement library (Christensen et al., 2014), the Warburg Dance Movement library (Christensen et al., 2018), the Persian Dance Movement library (Christensen et al., 2019), the Max Planck European Dance movement library (Christensen et al., in prep). Advantages and pitfalls will be outlined for each stimuli library and potential for future research outlined.

Finally, I will give a short introduction to my most recent work on cross cultural dance aesthetics, researching the relatively unknow dance style Persian Solo Improvised Dance.