Researchers have been awarded almost £250,000 to conduct an in-depth analysis of the mental imagery used by performers to push the boundaries of contemporary dance.
The three-year project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, will see academics at Plymouth University working alongside two of the UK’s leading centres for dance training to examine what enables dancers to become confident enough to let their emotions guide their movements.
It will also examine how such mental techniques and methods can be taught most effectively, with a view to developing detailed training programmes for aspiring dancers to employ.
The research team has chosen to focus on contemporary dance as it places a high value upon creative innovation, and the use of multimodal imagery changes as expertise develops.
Professor of Psychology Jon May, who will lead the study at Plymouth University, said:
“There is always much debate about what it means – and what it takes – to be creative. In essence, being able to shift between different forms of mental imagery and evoking visual, auditory, and emotional sources of inspiration can create the ideal circumstances for novel ideas to be generated. Many people find such skills difficult but reaching a position where you are able to instantly think outside the box could be the key to helping contemporary dancers and others in the creative sector reach the pinnacle of their professions.”
Working in collaboration with Wayne McGregor | Random Dance company, Professor May has previously focussed on uncovering information about the choreographic thinking involved in contemporary dance and developing a series of thinking tools and lesson plans based on it.