Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance

Dances with Science: An Interdisciplinary Colloquium

Tuesday 23rd June 2015, 17.00-19.00. Jarman Building, University of Kent

Dr Emily Cross - 'A Glimpse into the Neuroscience of Dance Learning and Enjoyment'

Dutch choreographer Ivar Hagendoorn once commented that “the limbs move, but it is the brain that dances”. When we watch a ballet dancer leap into the air in a perfect split or a breakdancer effortlessly spin on his head five times, how do our own dance abilities (or lack thereof) influence how we perceive performers who excite and impress us? This talk explores what the latest neuroscience of dance research reveals about what’s going on inside our heads as we watch those movements that inspire us to get up out of our chairs and dance.

Emily S. Cross is a senior lecturer of social neuroscience and dancer based at Bangor University in North Wales and Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, where she directs the Social Brain in Action Laboratory ( Through her research, she uses dance, gymnastics, contortion and robots in combination with brain scanning and training paradigms to explore how we learn and perceive complex actions.

Dr Guido Orgs -'You Move, I Watch, It Matters: A Neuro-Cognitive Model of Aesthetic Appreciation in Dance'

Neuroaesthetic theories have so far been limited to the visual arts and music. In this talk I will develop a neurocognitive model that combines principles from communication theory with the psychological and brain mechanisms of human movement perception to provide a neuroaesthetic framework for dance. The theory identifies three key components: the performer-transmitter, the movement message and the spectator-receiver. I will review the neural constraints of communication via movement by describing the brain mechanisms involved in action/body perception. Extending Grice’s four cooperative principles of successful communication to the performance situation, I will propose a dimensional model of the psychological processes that underlying aesthetic appreciation of the movement message.

Guido Orgs received his training in both Performing Dance (Folkwang University of the Arts) and Psychology (University of Dusseldorf). After completion of his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience, he performed with German Dance Company NEUER TANZ/VA WÖLFL from 2008 to 2011. Working as postdoc with Patrick Haggard at UCL from 2009 to 2013, he conducted research on how we perceive other people’s movements and how the brain mechanisms of movement perception underlie the aesthetics of dance. Since 2013 he is a Lecturer in Psychology at Brunel University London.

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Last Updated: 28/05/2015