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Processing Emotional Expression in the Dance of a Foreign Culture: Gestural Responses of Germans and Koreans to Ballet and Korean Dance

Zi Hyun Kim, Hedda Lausberg


Artistic dance differs between cultures with regard to the formal movement repertoire and methods to represent dancer's emotions. The present study explores how differently the spectators perceive the dance scenes of their own and foreign cultures. We showed German and Korean participants sad and happy dance scenes of the French ballet Giselle and Korean dance Sung-Mu. To learn the perceived thoughts and feelings of the participant from the dance scenes, we analyzed the frequency of their hand movements and gestures, which were accompanied by verbal descriptions of the participant's appreciation immediately after observation of the dance stimuli. The videotaped hand movements and gestures were coded by two independent certified raters with the well-proven NEUROGES® system. The ANOVA analysis revealed that the German participants executed significantly more gestures than the Korean participants for sad Sung-Mu and happy Giselle. Concerning the function of the gesture, Koreans showed significantly more deictic gestures than Germans for Sung-Mu dance. The German participant showed a cross-cultural effect for sad Sung-Mu and an in-group effect for happy Giselle, while the Korean participants showed a clear in-group effect for Sung-Mu of their own culture. Therefore, we assume that the relation of cross-cultural versus in-group advantage effects is strongly influenced by the intensity of the spectator's feelings during the perception of each dance stimulus.


perception; dance; culture; gesture; hand movement

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