Saara Moisio. Kuva: Sanni Martiskainen.

Public defence: Dynamics of value creation in the audience experiences of contemporary dance

Saara Moisio’s doctoral dissertation Balancing Acts in Spectatorship – Dynamics of Value Creation in Audience Experiences of Contemporary Dance will be presented for public discussion at the Faculty of Arts in University of Helsinki on the 28th of January 2022 at 12 o’clock. Professor Ben Walmsley from the University of Leeds will act as opponent and professor Hanna Korsberg from the University of Helsinki will act as custos. The defence is held in lecture room 107, Athena (Siltavuorenpenger 3 A). Due to the current pandemic situation audience can follow the defence only online via Zoom: https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/69120308757

In her dissertation, Moisio shows how from the perspective of the spectator value creation is an embodied and dynamic process. By analysing interview material collected from 21 research participants in three different case studies, Moisio develops a model for understanding the dynamics of value creation in spectator’s experience. The model has four dimensions between which spectators balance when creating value for themselves: expectation of being affected, self-development, familiarity and recognizability and relationship building. The study also opens spectators’ ways of understanding contemporary dance, what emotions and feelings it evokes in them, and how spectators evaluate and appreciate contemporary dance based on their feelings. Case studies deal with spectators’ experiences of performances by three different choreographers: Maija Hirvanen’s Epic Failing (Zodiak – Center for New Dance 2015), Tero Saarinen and Kimmo Pohjonen’s Breath (Tero Saarinen Company 2018) and Sari Palmgren’s ja working groups’ Licking Things (Full Moon Dance Festival 2018).

The study emphasizes that instead of defining and measuring value of performing arts we should focus on understanding the complexity of the value creation process. The central argument is that value is always created in the interactions between spectators, performances, and their environments. In this interaction the balancing acts that spectators do between the aforementioned dimensions determine their relation to the performance, its artists, and the artform in itself.

How can contemporary dance meet the spectator’s expectations of being affected and need for self-development? This depends as much on the spectator’s ability to recognize the art form as an opportunity for being affected as on how the artists and producers communicate about the art form. The study proposes that in the interaction between spectators and performances each one’s own abilities and expectations are the background against which the meaning and value of a performance emerges. With the help of theories of dynamic systems and mind as embodied, enacted and extended, the study argues that each experience feeds into the dynamics of value creation, adapts its dimensions and therefore also the spectators’ interest in future performances. Through a personal process of value creation, each spectator has an essential role in the cultural-cognitive ecosystem of contemporary dance.

The dissertation is available for reading and can be downloaded ten days before the defence: https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/337885

More information:

Saara Moisio

saara.moisio@helsinki.fi / 029 4122900

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