African dance as proprioceptive art

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The following is a research hypothesis derived from experience with learning African dances:

African dance is essetially not a visual, but a proprioceptive art, i.e. an art form targeting the body-internal sensors (see Proprioception).
A rythmic pattern might be persived as an auditive pattern (in the music one can here) or visual (in a dance one sees). From the point of view of the dancer, the same rythmical pattern might also be a proprioceptive pattern, i.e. a pattern that the dancer observes with the muscle and touch receptors in his body. The abstract pattern is always the same. You can transfer a piece of music to another musical instrument or you can "play" it with your own body.
So music in Africa is not necessarily an auditive art. In fact, African polycentric dance can be viewd as a proprioceptive art where the dancer is the only person who can perceive the piece of art completely. The rythmical structure the dancer feels in the body is then integrated with the auditive music into a "multimedia" experience of great esthetic beauty. So Africans have created an art form for the body-internal proprioceptive senses which have been neglected in other parts of the world as a target for art.
If one knows the dance, one can percieve the structures in somebody else's dance one observes, but primarily, African dance is not a visual art but a proprioceptive art. The fact that many African languages don't distinguish between concepts of music and dance in the same way as european languages do might therefore be based on the following phenomena: an auditive pattern might be transfered to a proprioceptive pattern and vice versa (the abstract pattern of "music/dance" beeing the same in both ways of performing it) and both parts of the experience might be integrated into one multimedia "gesamtkunstwerk" in the dancer's/listener's brain/mind.


  • has this hypothesis about African dance been formulated before? If so, relevant references should be posted here.
  • how is dance and music conceptualized in African languages. Do these conceptualizations show a concept of proprioceptive music (music felt in the body instead of being heard).

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