Major grant for dance research

Barbie Diewald, assistant professor of dance at Mount Holyoke College, is on a team of researchers looking to quantify dance with computer-based tools.

By Keely Savoie Sexton 

The National Endowment for the Arts has given a Research Lab Award to the Laboratory for the Scientific Study of Dance. 

Based at University of Massachusetts Amherst and directed by the university’s Assistant Professor of Dance Science Aston McCullough, the laboratory is equipped with sensors and computer visualization systems that enable a dancer’s movement to be recorded and analyzed in real time. Performers and athletes can get instant feedback, based on their goals and experiences. 

It is one of only 20 such facilities in the country. 

Barbie Diewald, assistant professor of dance at Mount Holyoke College, is part of the team that will be developing and shaping the lab. She hopes that she will be able to bring the qualitative, intuitive aspects of dance research into the date-driven methods and new technology.

“I’m looking forward to collaborating with Dr. McCullough and my other Five College colleagues on the team for this project,” Diewald said. “I hope this project will offer new insight into the value of physical practice and embodied knowledge. I’m excited to share what we learn with my Mount Holyoke students when we’re able to gather in the studio together again.”

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