About Performance – No 10

About Performance is an annual journal situated within the academic field of Performance Studies.  The current issue considers the role of the spectator in live performance and includes a broad range of interesting works on the topic.  A paper I wrote investigating spectating at mountain bike events is included in this volume and considers the skill development processes made possible by watching other riders race across technical trails.

More information on the journal can be found via this link.  I find myself wondering whether work like this can help mountain bikers attract funding for events, teams or trails as this work shows the benefits of these at a community and cultural level.  Please contact me if this is the case (the funding attracting, not the community argument, mountain bikers know this stuff already!).

Thank you to Ian Maxwell, and the University of Sydney’s Department of Performance Studies Publishing group (Miranda Heckenberg, Nicholas Hope, Glen McGillivray (convener), Jodie McNeilly and Justine Shih Pearson) for their support as I developed this work.  An abstract for the paper is below. A PDF copy is available via the following link: Feeling Them Ride_Bicknell

Feeling them Ride:  Corporeal exchange in cross-country mountain bike racing

Kath Bicknell


This paper considers the journey which takes place when the performance attended is something most of its audience have felt as skilled participants in the event as well.   Not only are they familiar with the narrative about to unfold, they have an experiential appreciation of the ability and dexterity required to make it so. Sitting within recent work applying performance studies theory to sport, I investigate the complex phenomenological feedback process happening between performers and spectators when such conditions are present.


An in-depth case study of skilled spectators, at a physically demanding section of an Australian cross-country mountain bike race, will be used a starting point for a performance analysis of the spectator/racer relationships present at these events. This relationship underpins the motivational and socio-cultural outcomes of live events for both performers and spectators in these circumstances and opens the door for further discussion about the complex relations between sport, performance and culture.