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Participatory sense-making in physical play and dance improvisation: drawing meaningful connections between self, others and world

The starting point of Carolien Hermans' research is how both children's physical play and dance improvisation by professionals can be considered somatic practices where sense-making manifests itself in and between bodies, and through movement. Hermans makes use of the concept of ‘participatory sense-making’ (De Jaegher & Di Paolo, 2007) to understand the role of movement, and the lived experience, in the way we make sense of self, others and world. This philosophical-scientific premise is closely aligned with enactivism, a movement in cognitive science that claims that cognition is not so much an internal, mental phenomenon as it is the result of the dynamic relationship between an organism and its environment. Enactivism offers an alternative to traditional models that conceive of cognition as an internal information-processing process in which perception and action serve primarily as inputs and outputs. Body, context, and (the lived) experience thus play a crucial role in the sense-making process.

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