Laboratory for the Scientific Study of Dance Receives NEA Award
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
UMass-based NEA Research Lab is first in the nation to focus on health benefits of dance in adults
The National Endowment for the Arts recently selected Laboratory for the Scientific Study of Dance (LAB:SYNC) based at the University of Massachusetts as a recipient of a prestigious Research Lab Award.
Aston K. McCullough, Assistant Professor of Dance Science in the Department of Music & Dance, is the director of LAB:SYNC, the university’s state-of-the-art, purpose-built motion capture and physiological testing unit for research on dance and health. LAB:SYNC is one of only 20 NEA Research Labs across the country, and the only one that focuses specifically on the benefits that dance confers on health in adults.
“The National Endowment for the Arts is pleased to welcome LAB:SYNC based at the University of Massachusetts Amherst into the network of labs across the country that are doing important work in this very challenging year,” said NEA Director of Research & Analysis Sunil Iyengar. “UMass is among research institutions that have pledged to investigate the impact of the arts on greater society.”
Over a two-year period, the new NEA Research Lab at UMass Amherst will seek to design and evaluate sensor- and questionnaire-based methods for quantifying dance behavior in adults ages 18-85 with varying levels of dance training experience. Within the same cohort, McCullough and colleagues will also test associations between lifetime dance experience and multiple markers of physical and mental health.
“Thanks to this grant, LAB:SYNC will calibrate and disseminate computer vision-, wearable sensor-, and questionnaire-based tools for researchers and dance practitioners to accurately capture and characterize dance behavior in either the laboratory or studio,” says McCullough. “With updates to the tools especially designed and tested for quantifying dance behavior across a broad range of ages and experience levels, future studies on dance and health can evaluate and recommend, with ever-increasing accuracy, specific quantities of dance when targeting health outcomes.”
In making the new NEA Research Lab fully operational, McCullough is joined by a transdisciplinary cadre of researchers from UMass and the Five Colleges. Those based at UMass Amherst include doctoral student of Kinesiology Natalie Cabiles, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology Bruna Martins-Klein, Genomics Research Laboratory Director Ravi Ranjan, Director of Athletic Medicine Pierre Rouzier, and Professor of Kinesiology Richard Van Emmerik. They are joined by Five Colleges researchers Chris Aiken (Associate Professor of Dance, Smith College), Barbie Diewald (Assistant Professor of Dance, Mount Holyoke College), Jenna M. Riegel (Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance, Amherst College), and Alexandra Ripp (Five College Dance Director, Five Colleges, Inc.).
For more information on projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.