In my scientific studies, I investigate how dancers’ perception and cognition changes through their training and how diverse audiences see and experience different forms of theatre and dance.
This research is a progression of practice-informed experimental and qualitative studies, often combined in a multi-method, interdisciplinary approach. I call this Embodied Neuroscience. Through active engagement with the object of study, the research is closer to real life and thus more ecologically valid.
I also engage in collaborative artistic research practice that combines artistic outputs with a deepening understanding of the cognitive, perceptual and social processes.
Over the last ten years, this has included collaborations with scientists and artists internationally in which we have studied audiences’ responses to watching dance as well as dancer-audience interactions during performances with renowned Dance and Physical Theatre companies.
These include: Emio Grecco I PC (Netherlands), Rosie Kay (UK), Scottish Ballet (UK), Fabrique Autonome des Acteurs (France), Myriam Gourfink (France), Robyn Orlin (South Africa), Wayne McGregor (UK), and Steve Paxton (USA). I am extremely grateful for the time these experts have dedicated to these research collaborations.
I am also honoured to have been trusted by dancers at the beginning of their careers. To name a few: two winners of the prestigious Place Prize for performing or choreographing Anna Finkel (dancer Lost Dog) and Riccardo Buscarini (dancer/choreographer); Jan Lee (Dancer/Musician); and dancers Rebecca Stancliffe and Andrea Schaerli, both of whom went on to study for a PhD which they successfully completed.
Overall, the aim of this research is to better understand processes of motor learning, movement perception and ultimately social interaction. For successful social interaction, it is important that we can effectively recognise and perceive the actions of others.
I argue that to better understand how people interact and communicate with each other, the study of dance and theatre practices is paramount.