Exploring the semantics of Dance

A guest talk by Patrick Grosz and Pritty Patel-Grosz from the University of Oslo, who will present their recent research on form and meaning in the Indian dance form Bharatanatyam in the CASTL colloquium on Friday at 14.15 in E0105.

The talk “Exploring the Semantics of Dance” (see abstract below) will be  followed by a social gathering at the blue sofa group with food and wine. They will also give a talk on pronouns and demonstratives on Monday — more details to follow shortly.
Exploring the Semantics of Dance
Pritty Patel-Grosz, Patrick Grosz, Tejaswinee Kelkar and Alexander
Jensenius (University of Oslo)

Recent linguistic research has extended the application of formal syntactic and semantic methodology to non-linguistic phenomena such as music (Lerdahl & Jackendoff 1983, Katz & Pesetsky 2011, Schlenker 2016) and dance (Napoli & Kraus 2015, Charnavel 2016). The overarching goal of such research programs is to understand the underlying cognitive  building blocks that language shares with other aspects of human cognition. Our own ongoing research on the semantics of dance focuses on Bharatanatyam, a narrative dance form. By virtue of video and motion capture recording, we explore the possibilities of encoding co-reference and disjoint reference in this dance form. We take as our point of departure recent work such as Abusch (2013), who explores co-reference outside of spoken language in comics without text. Our pilot production study shows that disjoint reference involves more complexity than co-reference, in the sense that a larger-level group boundary (cf. Charnavel 2016) is introduced. Furthermore, in addition to a manual gesture for “a different (man/woman),” the dancer encodes disjoint reference by means of mirroring of orientation, direction and posture. We propose to account for this difference (between a manual gesture and global mirroring) in terms of an at-issue vs. non-at-issue distinction, which is reminiscent of phenomena such as speech-accompanying gestures (Ebert & Ebert 2014, Schlenker 2015).


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