Becoming Undone: Exploring the Physiological and Psychological Science within the Art of Ballet



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Art and science are intrinsically linked. The evolution of art and science will always be intertwined due to the mere fact that art is created and sustained by humans and humans are created and sustained by scientific phenomena. Movement and music create the art of dance only by means of complex relations between the brain and the body. It has been found that both movement and music activate similar areas of the brain and in turn aid in mental and physical learning processes. However, changing a movement quality can be difficult in even the most experienced mover. It is the ‘unlearning’ of what one has learned which allows humans to continue to evolve; yet ‘unlearning’ to learn something new also seems to be one of the most difficult processes to go through for the brain and hence the body as well. Through research, choreography and collaboration with the dancers of this work ‘Becoming Undone,’ the links between the art of dance and science were explored. It was found that this link involves more than the hyperextension of joints or the flexibility of muscles and tendons, which are so often associated with ballerinas. Instead it was discovered that the two fields of art and science are in fact linked not within the overarching art of dance but within the dancer or artist herself.


The research and choreographic process of the performed work are discussed in the written thesis. The library also holds a physical copy of the thesis that includes a DVD of the performed dance work 'Becoming Undone.'


dance, ballet, unlearning, art and science, neuroscience of dance, evolution of dance, becoming undone