Mohammad Talebi | Dance-music communicology: interaction of dancers with musical rhythm for narrative embodiment in classical ballet variations

Dance-music communicology: interaction of dancers with musical rhythm for narrative embodiment in classical ballet variations

Mohammad Talebi | Dance-music communicology: interaction of dancers with musical rhythm for
narrative embodiment in classical ballet variations |  Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam | Supervisor: Prof. Alan Cienki | Co-supervisor: Dr. Vincent Meelberg | 2018 to 2024 | m.talebi[at]

Classical ballet is a European technical dance theater genre using various dramaturgic elements such as libretto, music, and choreography to share a nonverbal narrative with the audience. Dancers integrate textual, aural, and visual components of the ballet using various corporeal articulations and expressive gestures to represent a new multimodal narrative from each element. Dancer-music communication for narrative visualization is embedded within a complex dynamic system that has received less attention.


We conducted this study to better understand this multimodal system by addressing the
following questions:

  • How do principal dancers communicate with the music to embody a story’s narrative in
    classical ballet solo dances?
  • How does the situational context of music influence on entrainment?
  • To what degree does the prediction deal with dancers’ beat induction and error reduction?
  • How do the dancers’ sensorimotor synchronization with music as a form of metaphorical corporeal articulation help the narrative embodiment?


The aim of this study is to develop a multi-perspective of how classical ballet principal dancers interact with music to represent a new multimodal narrative in solo dances. The insights gained from this study can help us understand the body language and narrative discourse of ballet and other dance forms. This knowledge can ultimately contribute to choreomusicology studies and ballet artists, including choreographers, directors, and dancers, for better presentation and communication with their audiences during performances.


We use literature study, video observation, and interviews. We also record the dancers’ movements accompanying the musical stimuli using the Motion Capture system for quantitative analysis.

Linda Kopitz | Artificial Amsterdam: Architectural Writing and the Urban (Re)imagination of Nature

Artificial Amsterdam: Architectural Writing and the Urban (Re)imagination of Nature

Linda Kopitz | Artificial Amsterdam: Architectural Writing and the Urban (Re)imagination of Nature | University of Amsterdam, Media Studies | Supervisors: Markus Stauff, Maryn Wilkinson | 1 September 2022 – 31 August 2025 |  l.kopitz[at]

In our current moment of ecological crisis, creating urban environments that are more green, more sustainable, more livable has become an urgent challenge. Encompassing strategies as diverse as the private greening of rooftops via technological ‘smart’ solutions to the municipally mandated use of renewable construction materials, sustainability is a practical concern, representational practice and discursive process. This PhD project proposes that the cross-mediality of ‘architectural writing’ – architecture as writing – plays a crucial role in the sustainable (re)imagination of urban life through the production of nature within the city. Taking a cross-media approach to case studies of ‘sustainable’ building projects in/around Amsterdam, this project aims to trace how nature – and crucially the multi-sensorial and caring values connected to nature – are both figuratively and literally written into the fabric of the city. From the initial imagination of buildings via architectural models, to their virtual rendering and physical production on construction sites as well as their continuous communicative positioning, architectural writing highlights the social, political and cultural connotations of place-making in a negotiation of material and immaterial practices. With specific attention to the sensory qualities of both nature and architecture, this project seeks to offer a new starting point for thinking about an ethics of care for ourselves and the environment. This critical approach to existing and emerging ‘sustainable’ architectural projects will offer key insights into the interdependency between spaces, places and caring communities and contribute to broader debates about future-proofing and (re)imagining life in rapidly changing urban environments.

PhD Defense: Gemma Newlands (University of Amsterdam)

22 June 2023 | 16:00hrs | Agnietenkapel
Supervisors: Mark Deuze; Christian Fieseler

As new occupations emerge in response to the growth of the digital economy, the relationship between digital technology and labour has resulted in significant changes in how work is evaluated. By critically examining the ways in which humans and artificial intelligence (AI) are co-evolving and the ways in which work is becoming more technical and less human(e), this dissertation provides insights into the challenges and opportunities of this rapidly changing landscape. The integrated dissertation offers six distinct and self-standing articles which provide theoretical, empirical and methodological contributions to understanding the process of work evaluation in the digital economy. Taking a micro-level approach, I present the results of a qualitative interview study that I conducted with app-based food delivery couriers in Norway and Sweden on the topics of workplace recognition and perceived employability. I then take a meso-level approach by examining companies utilizing digitally mediated labour, investigating how these organizations surveil, measure and advertise the human labour they depend on. Finally, to address the macro-level societal perceptions, I detail the results of a quantitative study into the perceived occupational prestige and perceived occupational social value for a comprehensive and robust list of occupations, including those in the digital economy. This work is framed as a contribution that speaks to different audiences, primarily sociologists and other social scientists, but also policymakers, business leaders, and the general public, who all have a stake in understanding the implications of AI in the workplace.

PhD Defense: Kun He (University of Groningen)

Bottom-up and online populism in contemporary China: An understanding beyond the West

29 June 2023 | 14.30hrs | Academy building RUG
Chinese populism exhibits unique features that distinguish it from populism observed in democratic settings. Notably, Chinese populism encompasses two distinct forms: communist populism and online bottom-up populism, each operating in its own distinct manner. Communist populism is propagated through the party-state system, mobilizing against perceived corrupt elites in the name of the majority Chinese people. This aligns with the underlying antagonism between the bourgeoisie and proletariat in communism, as well as the populist sentiment of “the people versus corrupt elite.” In contrast, online bottom-up populism thrives on semi-anonymous digital media platforms, enabling collective protests by the people against corrupt elites through the expression of public concerns and discontent. This interaction between the people and netizens exemplifies the manifestation of “people’s power in the Internet age.” These sub-forms of populism often engage in cooperation, competition, and strategic maneuvers within the specific context of China.

PhD Defense: Constanza Gajardo (VU University)

Truly Engaging Audiences. How are the needs of the audience – as citizens – served by journalism?

Friday 20 October 2023 at 13:45 hrs
VU University – Amsterdam

From a traditional normative perspective, it is understood that if people do not consume news, democracy loses an informed foundation for an engaged citizenship (Christians et al., 2010; Schudson, 2008; McNair, 2009). Hence, the acquisition of factual information, primarily about politics and public affairs, is often considered what people need from journalism (McQuail, 2013). However, such normative formulations seem to primarily represent the viewpoint of journalists. The audience’s perspective has only been tangentially included in the normative framework of journalism, mainly based on predefined definitions of what it means for individuals to fulfil a citizen’s role (Moe, 2020).

How are the needs of the audience – as citizens – served by journalism? Or, more specifically, how does the audience experience journalism as truly engaging, and how do journalists feel they truly engage with their audiences? This dissertation deconstructs the relationship between citizens, journalism and democracy by taking the perspective of audiences as a starting point, and also considering the experiences of journalists’ relationship with them.

The research is based on 37 semi-structured interviews with Chilean news users (aged 18 to 65), and 20 professional journalists. Some key findings are: first, audiences not only appreciate but also demand that journalism be “on their side,” highlighting the importance people attach to journalism as a resource that allows them to have a sense of agency in their own lives. Second, feeling served by journalism in their role as citizens is not only based on the types of content they receive but also on the communicative experience it evokes. People feel served when they perceive that journalism communicates with them, adapting to their needs and preferences, specifically through demonstrations of (1) editorial transparency, (2) professional commitment, and (3) social commitment. And third, an empirical understanding of how journalism serves the audience as citizens may be construed around the notion of living citizens: concrete news users targeted by journalists based on professional democratic ideals. When journalists conceive of their audiences as living citizens, they see themselves as professionals whose value is strongly linked to their capacity to perform the role of a watchdog, not only in the interest of seeking to hold the de facto power accountable, but also by being a watchdog on behalf of the people and by taking people’s problems seriously. Likewise, approaching the audience as living citizens encourages journalists to see themselves as accountable both for making their journalism relevant and appealing to their audience, and also, being aware of and reflecting on the potential impact their journalism has on people’s lives.

Using the Chilean context as a starting point, this dissertation adds nuances to the automatic link between journalism and democracy and contributes to a better understanding of how the relationship between audiences, journalism, and democracy unfolds in empirical and everyday terms, thereby complementing and expanding the normative theory of journalism.