The Neuroscience of Dance

Before I address the title, I’d like to thank all of the choreographers who submitted work for this year’s Rhythmically Speaking show. It was very exciting to view the intriguing, inspired work being created in the great Twin Cities of Minnesota! Now, on to that title . . .

Last week, Heather posted a very interesting article on Rhythmically Speaking’s Facebook Page about neuroscience research suggesting that the emotions responses evoked by music come as a result of deviation in pattern. More specifically, the uniquely human quality of being able to recognize a musical pattern provides people the uniquely human experience of noticing when slight alterations occur in what they are hearing. The artistic deviations created when a musician makes the choice to slightly extend a note or to blue it, or their improvisations as a whole, are what interest and engage people in music. NOT the execution of a perfect replica of a virtuostic score.

What’s even more interesting than this? The fact that the article (To Tug The Heart Strings, Music Must First Tickle The Brain) discussed how the same neurons that fire in emotional response to music fire when knitting, when writing cursive; when MOVING. This opens a word of possibilities in explaining why jazz and rhythm-based dance are so appealing to people. They can create a physical visualization, an additional source for response, to fuse with the kinds of music that are not only built for, but celebrate, choice and individualism. Here are some places to check out more about the developing field of dance neuroscience;

The Beautiful Brain, An Expert-Driven Blog
The Neuroscience of Dance, Scientific American

I can say this much, if such research continues to suggest that deeply connected music and dance elicit unique, visceral and intense emotional response, I might become a neuroscientist!

Groove on, rhythm-lovin’ creators, performers and viewers!

Erinn Liebhard
Co-Artistic Director
Rhythmically Speaking

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