The Japanese concept/character MA (間), commonly translated as “gap, interval, or the in between,” partakes in many forms of Japanese arts and daily-life practices. In this article, we report the results of a qualitative research on the meaning or experience of MA and its relation with the feeling of togetherness in the context of contemporary dance improvisation. We interviewed performers and spectators (all professional dancers) while they watched the videotaped and reduced stick-figure versions of short dance improvisations created in a laboratory installed with motion-capture sensors. Based on the individual narratives, and inspired by Japanese and occidental aesthetic writings, we elaborate a specific understanding of MA as attending to the event's preacceleration, and how this experience causally relates to the feeling of togetherness (一体感, ittaikan). We propose that MA, understood not extensionally (as an empty space or a silent gap), but intentionally/internally as a certain quality of attention or perceptual mode, is fertile ground for serendipity. MA as an interpersonal ethical construct suggests a transsubjective difference as a foundation for a collective coming together.
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