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Dance Science Symposium 2023

University of Massachusetts Amherst

College of Humanities & Fine Arts

Department of Music & Dance


The Dance Science Symposium 2023 will be held online via Zoom, 1:00 - 3:30pm on Saturday, April 22, 2023.

Registration link =>

The Dance Science Symposium 2023 is an official research event of the National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab (Laboratory for the Scientific Study of Dance -LAB:SYNC) based at UMass Amherst.


About the Symposium

Dance Science image - at IALS, UMassThe Dance Science Symposium is an annual meeting that aims to bring together dancers and dance scientists to discuss critical and emerging research within the field of dance science and medicine. Grounded in the premise that science is not separate from art, the symposium features original research conducted by professional dancers who are simultaneously active in the field of dance science and medicine. The panel of speakers will reflect diversity in praxis and theory with respect to their dance training and performance histories, as well as in their respective areas of scientific inquiry and expertise. Presentations will address pertinent questions related to dance training and performance in research, as well as illustrate novel applications of dance-based practices or interventions in community contexts and/or clinical populations. The symposium will culminate in a panel discussion on the current state of research in dance science and medicine, with space for musings and insights as they relate to the next steps and evolutions for research in dance.


The Dance Science Symposia are hosted by LAB:SYNC (Director, Dr. Aston K. McCullough, Assistant Professor of Dance Science) and the Program in Dance (Director, Thomas Vacanti, Associate Professor of Dance) of the Department of Music & Dance, College of Humanities & Fine Arts, UMass Amherst.


2023 Presenters

Saturday, April 22, 2023, 1:00-3:30pm
Each 40-minute presentation will take place online via Zoom


Christina Hugenschmidt, PhD; Christina Soriano, MFA; Deepthi Thumuluri, MS
Wake Forest University, North Carolina
IMOVE and IGROOVE: Moving towards the medicine of dance
Hugenschmidt bio=>   Soriano bio=>   Thumuluri bio=>

Christina HugenschmidtChristina Soriano   Deepthi Thumuluri







Constantina Theofanopoulou

Constantina Theofanopoulou, PhD
Hunter College, City University of New York; Rockefeller University
Insights into the neurobiology of sensory-motor communication

Description and bio (pdf) =>



Edna OrozcoEdna Orozco, MA
Cenda University Corporation (Bogota, Colombia)
Proprioception and Cyberception: technological bodies and other anatomies on stage
Description and bio (pdf) =>




Past Dance Science Symposia Presentions

Dance Science Symposium 2022 Presentations (March 26)

Julia C. Basso PhD

Julia C. Basso, PhD

Virginia Tech

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Presentation: Dance on the Brain: Enhancing Mental Health and Interpersonal Synchrony

Description: Dance evolved as a form of interpersonal coordination, which serves to connect the self to others. We will discuss The Synchronicity Hypothesis of Dance, which posits that we dance for the purpose of intrinsic reward, enhancing behavioral and neural synchrony in the process, leading to improved interpersonal communication.



Martha Waugh MA

Martha Waugh, MA

Western Sydney University

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Presentation: Dance Self-efficacy in Older Adults

DescriptionFor older adults, self-efficacy for dance – dance-related confidence – is likely to influence participation in dance programs. We explore individual factors expected to contribute to dance self-efficacy and discuss how measuring dance efficacy could inform dance program evaluation and design and improve understanding of dance-related health outcome variability.



Agnieszka Burzynska, PhD

Agnieszka Burzynska, PhD

Colorado State University

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Presentation: The Dancing Brain: From Young Experts to Older Amateurs

DescriptionDance participation and proficiency involves cognitive, social, and physical activity, all of which require neural processing and control. I will present data from two neuroimaging studies on dance. The first study aimed at identifying brain structural, functional, and cognitive correlates of professional dance training in young adults (Burzynska et al., 2015). The second study aimed at understanding whether 6-month exercise and dance training in older adults may elicit white matter plasticity (Burzynska et al., 2017, Mendez et al., 2021).




       Dance Science Symposium 2021 Presentations:

Allison Seifert

Allison Seifert, PhD

Central Connecticut State University 

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Presentation: The Science and Application of Fitness in Dance

Description: This presentation will review the basic components of physical fitness and how its development positively impacts performance, injury risk, and support for a long and healthy career for dancers and performing artists.



Aviva Kornel

Aviva Kornel, MFA

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance

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Presentation: An Investigation into Duende and its Relationship to Flow among Professional Flamenco Performers

DescriptionThis presentation will discuss the findings of Aviva’s graduate research. It will look at how professional flamenco dancers and musicians define duende and make sense of the experience. It will also examine how duende enhances performance and its relationship to a flow state.  



Barry Parker

Barry Parker, PhD

Shenandoah University

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Presentation: The Importance of a Periodized Strength and Conditioning Program for Dancers

Description: In this talk, we will discuss the benefits of implementing a structured periodized strength and conditioning program in dancers. We will discuss current research and new data from our pilot study with collegiate dancers. 



Jessica Sudock

Jessica Sudock, PhD

Shenandoah University

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Presentation with Barry Parker




Peggy GouldPeggy Gould, MFA

Sarah Lawrence College

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Presentation: Utilizing Functional Anatomy Concepts in Dance Training: Observations, Inspirations, & Notes from the Field

DescriptionThe adage “knowledge is power” is potentially outmoded in its overly simple assertion and yet for dancing, it continues to hold some truth.  When dance artists are provided with specific structural and functional information about anatomy in the context of movement, there is often notable improvement in technical capability and expansion of aesthetic range.  This talk, intended for an audience of dancers, educators and scientists, provides an introduction including both anecdotal and practice-based examples.




2019 Dance Science Symposium presenters