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Keywords:

  • Heinz Kohut;
  • self psychology;
  • creativity;
  • modern dance;
  • choreography;
  • empathy;
  • aesthetics;
  • Daniel Stern;
  • intersubjectivity;
  • subjectivity;
  • procedural knowledge;
  • beauty;
  • ugliness;
  • selfobject function;
  • motivational systems;
  • forward-edge strivings;
  • Paul Taylor;
  • now moments;
  • Ellen Dissanayake

Theory and research methodology of self psychology are integrated with the experiences of modern dance choreographers to investigate the importance of creativity, art making, and aesthetics in mental health and our everyday lives. Empathy, as aesthetically based, is explored to understand the capacity of the arts to unite us in our humanity. Connections between aesthetic development, creativity, and infant patterns of learning are drawn. The influence of sensual and exploration/assertion motivational systems upon the contemporary choreographer are highlighted, leading to an understanding of the selfobject function of sensation and movement for the dance artist. Through an examination of the moment to moment ritualized experiences of studio work, the creative process in making dances is discussed. Ultimately understanding creativity and aesthetically based empathy inform our delineation of mental health and the need for aesthetic experience in everyday life.