The Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance at the University of Kent invites you to ‘Dances with Science’ on Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th June:

Monday 16 June, 17:30 – 18:30, Jarman 1
Listening to Dance: With our Bodies and Minds
Stephanie Jordan (Roehampton University)

What happens when we experience dance and music, together, or ‘choreomusically’? Is the response one of integrated experience or of two separate ‘voices’? Does one ‘voice’ lead? My paper is concerned primarily with perception, while referring to empathetic responses to, or embodiment of, the two simultaneously-presented media. Although a number of valuable cross-modal, empirical studies deal with basic temporal and spatial concepts, there are few to date that have fore-grounded the more complex relations (or structural meetings) between dance and music.  But I argue here that work from cognitive science crossing music and dance could provide useful tools for the profession—choreographers, dancers and dance teachers—as well as for dance analysts.

Stephanie Jordan is Research Professor in Dance at University of Roehampton.  She has had professional and academic experience in both music and dance, which contributes to her current research in choreomusical studies. Her books are Striding Out: Aspects of Contemporary and New Dance in Britain (1992), Moving Music: Dialogues with Music in Twentieth-Century Ballet (2000), and Stravinsky Dances: Re-Visions across a Century (2007, covering modern/postmodern dance as well as ballet).  In 2010, Jordan was honoured with the award for Outstanding Scholarly Research in Dance from the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD, USA).

Tuesday 17 June, 13:30 – 15:00, Jarman 1
The Body Knows: Contemporary Dance as a Lens on Human Perception and Cognition
Kate Stevens (The MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney)

Some hallmarks of contemporary dance – multimodal, largely non-verbal yet expressive, temporal and ephemeral – make dance a challenging and illuminating lens on human perception, cognition, learning, and memory. In this talk, I outline a series of projects that have used methods from cognitive psychology to investigate perception and cognition in dance. For example, the process of collaborative improvisation and dance-making by dancers and choreographer were studied and described using the Geneplore model of creative thinking. Our methods for capturing audience reactions to contemporary dance will be sketched – a pen and paper “Audience Response Tool” (ART) and a hand-held, online device for continuous recording of 1- or 2-dimensional ratings, the “portable Audience Response Facility” (pARF). More experimental methods of investigation developed and applied to dance cognition include a study of artificial grammar learning by novice dance observers, and analysis of eye movements as an implicit indicator of visual attention by expert and novice dance observers watching a dance film. These examples will be described, and implications for psychological theory, methods, and applications, discussed.

Cognitive psychologist Catherine (Kate) Stevens investigates the psychological processes in creating, perceiving, and performing music and dance, and applies experimental methods to evaluate complex systems and human-computer interaction. She holds BA (Hons) and PhD degrees from the University of Sydney. Kate is Professor in Psychology and leads the Music Cognition and Action research program in the MARCS Institute at the University of Western Sydney. (

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