Looking back – Collective Field 2017

In 2017, an interest in the contrasting collective and intimate spaces of dance, provoked by ongoing work with dancers with Parkinson’s, led dance artist Danielle Teale to develop the practice as research project, Explorations in Collectivity & Intimacy.

In 2017, an interest in the contrasting collective and intimate spaces of dance, provoked by ongoing work with dancers with Parkinson’s, led dance artist Danielle Teale to develop the practice as research project, Explorations in Collectivity & Intimacy. The project began as a process led exploration that considers the tools we use to develop dance with people with Parkinson’s and how we can value the shared energy of the collective, equally with the individual contributions of intimate movement exploration. The relationships between sound and body, rhythm and space, and the role of shared movement in relation to personal, physical, and perceptual experience have all been considered.

Connecting through a shared interest in these themes with visual artist Sara Hibbert, the first phase of the exploratory process was captured in an installation film that enables news perspectives on movement through the lens of the camera. The work-in-progress ‘Collective Field’ (2017), was exhibited at the RCA Dyson Gallery as part of a work in progress show by Altai Collective in 2017. 

Collective Field from Sara Hibbert on Vimeo.

This blog became a space for sharing research and thinking around the themes as the practice and research evolved. Looking back on older posts you will see the line of consideration through empathy, embodied thinking, the Neuroscience of mirroring, vicarious experience and many other areas…

As the work evolves into the CID project this summer please stay connected with our research and enquiries by following the blog

Educational researchers have suggested that teachers may be able to help students learn to manage their self-efficacy beliefs, which can in turn positively influence persistence, self-regulation, and subsequent task-based achievement (Bandura, 1997Pajares & Urdan, 2006Zimmerman, 2000). A sense of self-efficacy, or belief in one’s ability to accomplish a specific task, motivates individuals to persist despite setbacks, become more actively involved in a task, and work harder and longer toward attainment (Bandura, 19972012).

Self Efficacy in education

To date, neuroscience research in this area has identified shared neural networks whereby we process another’s action, emotion or sensation through overlapping brain regions as if we were carrying out that same action or experiencing that same emotion or sensation. Intriguingly, this research has shown that such vicarious activation of brain networks can span from an automatic and unconscious process through to an overt experience of the emotion or sensation of that observed in another person.

Vicarious experience in the collective

Bernadette M. Fitzgibbon, Jamie Ward and Peter G. Enticott

Exploring the impact of the collective with dancers from Dance for Health Rotterdam. We played with language led improvisation on the themes of collectivity…


These suggestions formed the starting point of our improvisation as individuals and the process of moving developed into an improvised jam as a collective.

In experimenting with collective and intimate movement in contrast to each other, I have been draw to the idea of how we initiate movement. Initiation of movement as an individual has to do with how we relate to the body – do we see the body as carving pathways in the space, do we see the body as making concrete shapes, do we relate the body to itself through an opening and closing of body parts, do we initiate movement from an external perspective, do we look inwardly to initiate movement from an internal impulse…

The result of our first experiment – Collective Field (2017) – has shifted my perspective on initiation of movement and I am intrigued to continue experimenting with different ways to inspire creative, dance responses from the intimate space – movement initiated by the dancers individually.

Dance is a multi-sensory art form involving visual, auditory and tactile cueing, as well as transformative tools such as storytelling and characterisation effecting escapism. In Parkinson’s dance we have learned that cuing – a well-established technique for improved locomotion in people with Parkinson’s – can come in multifaceted approaches from the visual (mirroring), to language (imagery), to auditory (musical pulse). Dance incorporates all of these things in layers that function to provide cues to people with Parkinson’s at all angles. As suggested by Peterson and Smulders – cueing also draws attention away from the task

Attention plays an important role in the efficacy of cueing. For example, as reduced movement automaticity may contribute to poorer gait function (e.g., smaller, more variable steps) in people with PD (4), external cues may act as pace-makers, taking the place of this additional cognitive control and reducing the amount of attention needed to maintain stable gait

– Peterson and Smulders (2015) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4672041/

This feeling of escaping Parkinson’s through cueing movement could be likened to ‘tricking’ the body to move unconsciously. In collective approaches to movement in dance, external cues are used widely to connect people – music, devices, patterning etc link dancers together in an unconscious unison. In Parkinson’s, what if this unconscious ‘tricking’ of the dancer through external cues is disrupting the possibilities for conscious understanding and control of the body. ‘Attentional’ cueing or ‘internal’ cueing, teaches the dancer to think of movement possibilities, and one might argue this gives ownership and control back to the dancer to ‘train’ his or herself to find possibilities for movement from within.

This idea links to the concept of collective versus intimate, as it is in the collective that we most frequently draw on external cues, and in the intimate when dancers are challenged to draw on internal cues for movement possibilities. Both are valuable and one should not be dropped in favour of another. However it is interesting to consider on which side we tend to err when delivering dance sessions for people with Parkinson’s. In reflecting on the values of my own dance practice, I consider my approach to respect and value the contributions of all dancers, not a practice that aims to normalise movement.

The confidence of grand gestures seems alien to me now. I’m interested in the personal gesture, contact, vulnerability. I want to make space, not take it. Isabel spoke about the intimacy of the artistic and human experiences she shared with her father in his final, confined years, and I saw how Hamlet might be bounded in a nutshell and yet count himself a king of infinite space. This art is invisible. It exists only in a meeting of minds. You have to be present, not observing but participating.

Paying attention

Francois Matarasso, July 4, 2017

Thinking about the various ways to use imagery to inspire intimate movement exploration with dancers with Parkinson’s…

Considering this in relation to fragmentation, and internally motivated movement techniques through imagery:

Dynamic Neurocognitive Imagery (Eric Franklin)

DNI uses progressive movement exercises combined with various methods of imagery to draw participants’ attention to anatomical structures and locations, body biomechanics, as well as spatial and functional relationships between body segments during movement.


Franklin’s description of imagery refers to three main categories

1. Anatomical and Kinetic
2. Metaphorical
3. Tactile

A 2012 research study into the different effects of these imagery styles on execution of a ballet step found that the anatomical imagery proved most effective. Additionally an interesting finding demonstrated that learning style did not necessarily correlate to the style of imagery that work best for performance enhancement.