1st Edition

A Somaesthetics of Performative Beauty Tangoing Desire and Nostalgia

By Falk Heinrich Copyright 2023
    230 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book develops an original theory of performative beauty. Philosophical aesthetics has largely neglected one’s own actions as a potential experience of the beautiful. Throughout the book, the author uses his own experiences of Argentine tango as a case study; one important incentive for social dancing is to have pleasurable and beautiful experiences.

    This book begins by investigating the methodological causes for why beauty in modernity has been seen to result only from contemplating external objects. It then builds a theory of performative beauty that incorporates findings from new phenomenology, neuroaesthetics, enactivism, and somaesthetics and that reassesses existing inquiries of beauty. The result is an account that identifies kinaesthetic awareness as the point of emergence of both theory and practice, of creation (poiesis) and perception (aisthesis), and of moving (agency) and being moved (reception). Performative beauty is the pleasure of being moved by the dance where the dancer feels both as a creative improvisor and as an integrated part of the activity itself.

    A Somaesthetics of Performative Beauty—Tangoing Desire and Nostalgia will appeal to scholars and advanced students working in aesthetics, dance studies, performance studies, and related fields of artistic research.


    Chapter 6 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF at http://www.taylorfrancis.com under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license.

    1. Preface and introduction

    2. Preparing the philosophical dance floor

    3. Methodological dances

    4. Freedom and poiesis

    5. Promises and grace 

    6. Eros and objectivisation

    7. Selections and unity (sensus communis)

    8. Appendix: My Argentine Tango


    Falk Heinrich is a professor of participatory aesthetics and artistic research at Aalborg University, Denmark. Before joining academia, he worked as a theatre actor and director and installation artist. He studied dramaturgy and wrote his PhD on interactive digital installation art. He is the editor of The Journal of Somaesthetics.

    "Falk Heinrich establishes a new theory on aesthetic experience that shifts focus from distanced contemplation to performative process based on his experience in tango dancing. From a somaesthetic perspective, the book elucidates that perceived action and enacted perception are one and the same."

    Professor Tanehisa Otabe, The University of Tokyo

    "Based on his own experiences while dancing Argentine tango, Falk Heinrich has managed to identify a new concept of beauty that emerges in the movements of dancers. His multifaceted interpretation of this performative beauty, which has a general perspective, is highly original and will enchant the readers."

    Dr. Else Marie Bukdahl, former rector of Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.