A friend sent me a passage of Abhinavagupta's commentary (Abhinavabhāratī) on Bharata's Nāṭyaśāstra. It is a further instance of the theory of bhāvanā being used as a commonly agreed upon example.
athocyate recakāṅgahāranibandhātmakaṃ yan nṛttaṃ na tena kaścid artho ’bhinīyate | api tu yathā viśiṣṭair mantraiḥ bhāvanāviśeṣaiś cābhyudayasiddhiḥ tathā viśiṣṭadevatāsūcakair mantrais tathā tad gīte cābhyadhāyi
But, like through various mantras and specifications of the bhāvanā (ritual action), good fortune is realised, and so [also] through mantras which suggest various deities, in the same way this has been explained [to occur] in the case of song.
Bhāvanāviśeṣais could hint at commendatory statements (arthavāda), which, like mantras, are also subsidiary to the main ritual action. Dance, hence, does not convey a meaning, but still has a purpose (artha).