Thirty participants from ten countries came together to share their work and perspectives on neurocognitive aspects and processes involved in dance and choreography.
The main part of the group that met in April was neither new to each other, nor to the location. Fifteen of the 30 participants were already working together in the Dance engaging Science network, an initiative that had been brought into life by Scott deLahunta on the basis of The Forsythe Company's Motionbank project and funded by the VW Foundation. Nine of the 30 participants had previously attended one or both Intelligence and Action workshops at the ZiF in 2007 and 2009, the purpose of which had been to intensify an exchange of ideas and questions between dance and cognitive science and potentially establish collaborations between scientists and dance practitioners. While the Intelligence and Action workshops had mainly served as initial meeting point to generate and promote network activities, the aim of the subsequent Dance engaging Science network was more focused and concrete, as grants for several small art/ science projects were available from the VW Foundation. The majority of the projects had emerged within three network meetings at Frankfurt in 2011 and 2012 and had been put into practice during the remaining funding phase. With most projects being rounded up in 2014, April 2015 was the perfect time to come together again to share the outcomes, present recent developments and novel ideas, and think about next steps.
On Thursday afternoon, the workshop participants were given a warm informal welcome by the convenors, followed by a friendly and informative introduction to the ZiF by Britta Padberg. Throughout the three workshop days, the major part of the time was reserved for project presentations organized by the individual groups. The first presentation was given by Jenny Coogan and José Biondi (Palucca Hochschule für Tanz Dresden) and Liane Simmel (Tamed Deutschland e.V.), who had visited Bielefeld University with a group of dance students for an empirical study on motor learning in dance. On Friday, after a refreshing morning movement session in the beautiful ZiF garden, Maaike Bleeker (University of Utrecht) and Freya Vass-Rhee (University of Kent) reported recent developments in their projects linking the humanities with cognitive science perspectives on dance. The following two sessions were dedicated to a project on audience perception of dance performance carried out by a group around Asaf Bachrach (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris) and an empirical project by Kate Stevens (University of Western Sydney), James Leach (University of Western Australia), David Kirsh (University of California San Diego) and Scott deLahunta, Thinking Brains and Bodies: Distributed Cognition and Dynamic Memory in Australian Dance Theatre. In the final project presentation on Saturday, Elizabeth Waterhouse, Riley Watts (The Forsythe Company) and Bettina Bläsing presented their work on entrainment between dancers in William Forsythe's piece Duo. Presentation modes included slide-based presentations, verbal reports, video presentations, ad-hoc experiments joined by the audience, and skype discussions with Kate Stevens and Alva Noë who were not present during the respective sessions. All project presentations inspired animated and fruitful discussions within the entire workshop group, reflecting a high level of cross-disciplinary linking.
The evening of the first workshop day was assigned to three inspiring talks by Beatriz Calvo-Merino (City University London), Emily Cross (University of Bangor) and Guido Orgs (Brunel University London), who presented findings from their recent dance-related research. The talks were complemented and extended by poster presentations given by ten young researchers on Friday afternoon, which also sparked lively discussions. CITEC, having co-funded the ZiF workshop, was introduced by its coordinator Helge Ritter following the welcome on Thursday, and on Friday afternoon a group of workshop participants visited the CITEC building on the new campus for a tour of the Biomechanics Lab, the Virtual Reality Lab and the Ambient Intelligence Lab. The group returned to the ZiF deeply impressed by the technical facilities and demonstrations of work in progress, but also by the competent and comprehensible introductions given by the CITEC members.
The over-all atmosphere during the workshop was relaxed, the ZiF with its spacious facilities, beautiful surroundings and excellent support staff provided the optimal background for interdisciplinary inspiration and generating ideas for further collaborations. The wrap-up and final discussion on Saturday afternoon was mainly focused on future developments in the emerging field of neurocognitive dance science, within the workshop group and beyond it. A broad range of ideas was proposed several of which were discussed in more detail in terms of their prospective implementation, including enhanced publication and dissemination strategies, expanding the research network particularly towards artists, initiating co-teaching by artists, scholars and scientists, developing strategies for future funding and spotting potential hosts for meetings and collaborations - regarding the latter point, the ZiF was clearly top of the list.
Asaf Bachrach (Paris, FRA), José Biondi (Dresden, GER), Maaike Bleeker (Utrecht, NED), Beatriz Calvo-Merino (London, GBR), Julia Christensen (London, GBR), Jenny Coogan (Dresden, GER), Emily Cross (Gwynedd, GBR), Isis Germano (Utrecht, NED), Pil Hansen (Calgary, CAN), Juliane Jacqueline Honisch (Reading, GBR), Corinne Jola (Dundee, GBR), Coline Joufflineau (Paris, FRA), Louise Kirsch (Gwynedd, GBR), David Kirsh (La Jolla, USA), James Leach (Crawley, AUS), Klara Lucznik (Plymouth, GBR), Karin Matko (Dresden, GER), Alva Noë (Berkeley, USA), Guido Orgs (Uxbridge, GBR), Anna Paunok (Dresden, GER), Liane Simmel (München, GER), Matthias Sperling (London, GBR), Michael Steinbusch (Dresden, GER), José Luis Ulloa Fulgeri (Paris, FRA), Freya Vass-Rhee (Canterbury, GBR), Staci Vicary (Uxbridge, GBR), Elizabeth Waterhouse (Bern, SUI), Riley Watts (Frankfurt am Main, GER)