This Is Your Brain on Dance

Tamara Rojo as Odile and Carlos Acosta as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, by Johan Persson, courtesy of Royal Opera House

In this week's mind-blowing news, a study published in Cerebral Cortex shows it's more than snappy spotting that keeps dancers spinning like tops without getting dizzy. It's also science. Dancers' brains, it seems, actually function differently than nondancers', making it easier for ballerinas to whip through 32 fouettés at a time.

To test the theory, researchers at Imperial College London spun dancers and rowers around in chairs in a darkened room—no spotting help there. (Researchers chose rowers because they matched the dancers in athleticism but not in spinning tendencies. After all, those boats go straight pretty much non-negotiably.) After the chairs stopped, rowers felt like the room was spinning much faster than dancers did. Furthermore, MRIs revealed reduced activity in certain areas of dancers' brains, specifically where dizziness is perceived. “It's not useful for a ballet dancer to feel dizzy or off balance," said Dr. Barry Seemungal, a neurologist in the Department of Medicine at Imperial College. “Their brains adapt over years of training to suppress that input."

So practice makes perfect in your brain structure as well as your body. This is clearly because dancers are morphing superhumans who can biologically redesign themselves for maximum performance capabilities. If that doesn't get more boys into ballet classes, I honestly don't know what will.

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

As many dance teachers begin another semester of virtual teaching, it is time to acknowledge the fact that virtual classes aren't actually accessible to all students.

When schools and studios launched their virtual dance programs at the beginning of the pandemic, many operated under the assumption that all their students would be able to take class online. But in reality, lack of access to technology and Wi-Fi is a major issue for many low-income students across the country, in many cases cutting them off from the classes and resources their peers can enjoy from home.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Awards

Who knew that a virtual awards ceremony could bring our community together in such a powerful way?

Last night, we celebrated the annual Dance Teacher Awards, held virtually for the first time. Though it was different from what we're used to, this new setting inspired us to get creative in celebrating our six extraordinary honorees. In fact, one of the most enlivening parts of the event was one that could only happen in a Zoom room: Watching as countless tributes, stories and congratulations poured in on the chat throughout the event. Seeing firsthand the impact our awardees have had on so many lives reminded us why we chose to honor them.

If you missed the Awards (or just want to relive them), you're in luck—they are now available to watch on-demand. We rounded up some of the highlights:

Keep reading... Show less
Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer had input on the new Rambert Grades curriculum. Photo by Camilla Greenwell, Courtesy Rambert

British dance company and school Rambert has launched a new contemporary-dance training syllabus. Rambert Grades is intended to set a benchmark in contemporary-dance training, focused on three strands: performance, technique and creativity. Moving beyond the Graham and Cunningham techniques that form the basis of most modern-dance training in the UK, it includes contributions from current high-profile choreographers Hofesh Shechter, Alesandra Seutin and Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.