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Lincoln Center and The Center for Ballet and the Arts piloted a half-day symposium that explored the neuroscience behind movement. This closed event brought together leading neuroscientists and dancers in a series of conversations and demonstrations.
Russell Granet, Acting President, Lincoln Center
Damian Woetzel, President, The Juilliard School
Jennifer Homans, Founder and Director, The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University
Pas de Deux from Polyphonia
Russell Janzen (CBA ’18), Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet
Lauren Lovette (CBA ’18), Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet
Choreography by: Christopher Wheeldon
Music by: György Ligeti
No. 2 Hopp ide tisztán from Three Wedding Dances (1950)
How the Brain Controls Movement
Thomas J. Carew, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science and Professor of Neural Science, New York University
How a Dancer Trains
Jennifer Homans in conversation with Lauren Lovette and Russell Janzen
How the Brain Learns
Rafael Yuste, Professor of Biological Sciences & Neuroscience, Columbia University
How Dance Restores Movement
Demonstration by Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD
Dancers: David Buffman, Nancy Petaja, Coralie Saulson, JM Tolani and Manny Torrijos
Excerpts from L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (1988)
Based on choreography by Mark Morris
Music: George Frederic Handel (1740)
Pastoral ode after poems by John Milton (c. 1632)
Jennifer Homans and Rafael Yuste in conversation
with Eva Nichols, Outreach Director for the Mark Morris Dance Group and Teaching Artists Janelle Barry and Rita Donahue
Question & Answer
Moderated by Russell Granet
“…dancing is, after all, just a more complicated version of how we move every day. It’s a poetic collaboration of #movement and gesture often set to music.” – Jennifer Homans, Founder and Director, CBA. Watch The Brain is the Dancer at https://t.co/Bvj6jSwVla. pic.twitter.com/hzLRXVUj87
— The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU (@CBA_NYU) November 14, 2019
The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University is an international research institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences. It exists to inspire new ideas and new ballets, expanding the way we think about the art form’s history, practice, and performance in the 21st century. To learn more, please visit balletcenter.nyu.edu.
The Juilliard School, founded in 1905, is a world leader in performing arts education. The school’s mission is to provide the highest caliber of artistic education for gifted musicians, dancers, and actors from around the world so that they may achieve their fullest potential as artists, leaders, and global citizens. Located at Lincoln Center in New York City, Juilliard offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in dance, drama (acting and playwriting), and music (classical, jazz, historical performance, and vocal arts). Currently more than 800 artists from 40 states and 38 countries and regions are enrolled at Juilliard, where they appear in over 700 annual performances in the school’s five theaters; at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully and David Geffen halls and at Carnegie Hall; as well as at other venues around New York City, the country, and the world. Beyond its New York campus, Juilliard is defining new directions in global performing arts education for a range of learners and enthusiasts through The Tianjin Juilliard School and K-12 educational curricula.
The Mark Morris Dance Group’s award-winning Dance for PD® program offers internationally- acclaimed dance classes for people with Parkinson’s disease in New York City and, through our network of partners and affiliates, in more than 250 communities in 25 countries. In Dance for PD® classes, people with Parkinson’s and their care partners and families are empowered to explore movement and music in ways that are refreshing, enjoyable, stimulating and creative. Born from the idea that people with Parkinson’s could benefit from the insight and specific techniques and methods used by dancers to guide their own bodies and minds, Dance for PD is an aesthetic experience that focuses on developing artistry and grace while addressing such Parkinson’s-specific concerns as balance, flexibility, coordination, gait, social isolation, and depression. Launched in 2001, the program also delivers comprehensive teacher training, distributes innovative instructional media around the world, and nurtures relationships among other organizations so that classes based on the Dance for PD model are widely available. Evidence from 38 peer-reviewed scientific studies serves to underpin the effectiveness and benefits of the Dance for PD teaching practice.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts serves three primary roles: presenter of artistic programming, national leader in arts and education and community engagement, and manager of the Lincoln Center campus. A presenter of more than 3,000 free and ticketed events, performances, tours, and educational activities annually, LCPA offers a variety of festivals and programs, including American Songbook, Avery Fisher Career Grants and Artist program, David Rubenstein Atrium programming, Great Performers, Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Awards, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Lincoln Center Vera List Art Project, LC Kids, Midsummer Night Swing, Mostly Mozart Festival, White Light Festival, the Emmy Award–winning Live From Lincoln Center, which airs nationally on PBS, and Lincoln Center Education, which is celebrating more than four decades enriching the lives of students, educators, and lifelong learners. As manager of the Lincoln Center campus, LCPA provides support and services for the Lincoln Center complex and the 11 resident organizations: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Juilliard School, Lincoln Center Theater, The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, School of American Ballet, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Thomas J. Carew has served as the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science at NYU since July 2011. He was previously the Bren Professor and Chair of the Department ofNeurobiology and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine, where he also served as Chair of the Task Force on Undergraduate Education, and as a member of the system- wide Commission on Undergraduate Education. He has also held leadership roles at Yale University and Columbia University. A renowned scholar and the author of over 180 scholarly articles and three books, Dean Carew has focused his research on the behavioral, cellular, and molecular analyses of learning and memory. Among his many honors are the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) MERIT Award, an NIMH Career Development Award, Yale’s Dylan Hixon Prize for Excellence in Teaching in the Natural Sciences, and the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award at the University of California, Irvine. He is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and served as President of the Society for Neuroscience in 2008. Dean Carew earned a BA from Loyola University, an MA in physiological psychology from California State College, and his PhD in physiological psychology from the University of California, Riverside. He also received an honorary MA from Yale University in 1984. Dean Carew has been married to his college sweetheart, Mary Jo, for 54 years. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.
Janelle Barry earned her BFA in Dance Performance from Chapman University. She has performed works by Bella Lewitsky, Nakul Dev Mahajan, and Mike Esperanza, as well as performed with Backhausdance, I KADA Contemporary Dance Company, the Czech-American Marionette Theatre, The Metropolitan Opera, and with Mark Morris Dance Group. Her choreography has been featured at Regional Dance America in addition to numerous venues in California and New York, and she has had the pleasure of setting work on the Orange County Regional Ballet, Ballet Unlimited, the Chapman Dance Alliance, and the Folklore Dance Theater. Janelle currently teaches dance to all ages at the Mark Morris Dance Center as well as for the Dance for PD® program.
Rita Donahue was born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia, and attended George Mason University. She graduated magna cum laude in 2002, receiving a B.A. in English and a B.F.A. in dance. Donahue danced with bopi’s black sheep/dances by Kraig Patterson, and was an MMDG company member from 2003 to 2017.
Russell Granet is Acting President of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, home to 11 world-class arts organizations. Internationally respected as a strategic and effective advocate for arts and education, Mr. Granet first joined Lincoln Center in 2012 as Executive Director of Lincoln Center Education (LCE), spearheading LCE’s highly successful fundraising, rebranding, and community outreach programs. In 2016, he was promoted to Executive Vice President of Lincoln Center Education, Community Engagement, and International, a division of Lincoln Center that provides thought leadership and executive-level training to clients around the world. Prior to joining Lincoln Center Mr. Granet founded the international consulting group Arts Education Resource and held leadership positions at The Center for Arts Education – The NYC Annenberg Challenge and American Place Theatre and was a senior teaching artist in NYC public schools. He served for two decades on the faculty of the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University (NYU). Mr. Granet studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Emerson College, and received his Master’s degree from the Steinhardt School at NYU.
Jennifer Homans is the Founder and Director of The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University, where she is also a Distinguished Scholar in Residence in History and European and Mediterranean Studies. She is the author of Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet (2010), named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Homans has written for The New York Times, The Guardian (UK), and the New York Review of Books, among others, and was the Dance Critic for The New Republic from 2001-2014. She holds a B.A. from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Modern European History from New York University. Before becoming a writer and scholar, Homans was a professional dancer, and performed with the Pacific Northwest Ballet and other companies. The recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 2012, she is currently at work on a new book, George Balanchine: A History (Random House).
Russell Janzen grew up outside of Philadelphia. He started dance lessons at the Rock School for Dance Education, and then later moved to New York City to attend the School of American Ballet. After graduating high school, he joined the New York City Ballet (NYCB) where he is now a principal dancer. His repertory with NYCB includes works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Justin Peck, Peter Martins, Christopher Wheeldon, and Benjamin Millepied, among others. He was a Riggio Honors student at the New School for Public Engagement and is interested in exploring art’s participation in larger contemporary conversations.
Lauren Lovette began choreographing in 2007 as a student at the School of American Ballet. While enrolled there, she participated in two choreographic workshops and was then selected to create a work for the 2009 New York Choreographic Institute. In 2016, Lovette choreographed for the New York City Ballet (NYCB) Fall Fashion Gala, and was commissioned to make a work for an arts seminar at Kirkland and Ellis Law. In 2017, she choreographed for the Vail International Dance Festival, the NYCB Fall Season Gala, and the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company. With NYCB, Lovette has been employed as a dancer since 2009 and principal dancer since 2015.
Eva Nichols is the Outreach Director for the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG). Eva Nichols joined MMDG in 1993, soon after graduating with honors from Barnard College. She was Company Manager for the Dance Group from 1995-2000 and General Manager until 2002. She served as Director of Education from 2002-2010 and managed over 70 weekly classes for children and adults at The School at the Mark Morris Dance Center. She also developed programs for Brooklyn public school children and community residents including Dance for PD®; Mark Morris’ Dance, Music & Literacy Project, and the MMDG/ NYCHA Partnership. Eva continues to manage Dance for PD® as well as overseeing the licensing of Mark Morris’ work to college and university dance departments.
Nancy Petaja has had a diverse work history when begins as a Peace Corps volunteer, followed by 20 years as director of learning and development for a large bank and followed again by 15 years as executive director of a performing arts organization. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2012. In late 2013, she attended a Dance for PD® class and has not looked back. It’s been an amazing journey which continues to make such a difference for so many. Nancy currently volunteering as acting director of the Brooklyn Parkinson Group.
JM Tolani is a freelance photojournalist. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in May 2008, and has been dancing with Dance for PD® program for the past six years. In March 2017, Manny Torrijos retired after 30 years of federal government service as a bank examiner. His diagnosis of Parkinson’s in 2008 was “one of the best things that happened to him” and transformative. On turning 65, he applied for a reduced fare metrocard to ride the subways at half-price and a graduate program in Disability Studies to see the world
Damian Woetzel is the seventh president of The Juilliard School. Since retiring in 2008 from a 20- year career as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet, Woetzel has taken on multiple roles in arts leadership, including artistic director of the Vail Dance Festival since 2007, and director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program (2011-18). As an independent director, choreographer, and producer, his recent projects include DEMO at the Kennedy Center; Spaces by Wynton Marsalis for Jazz at Lincoln Center; Kennedy Center Honors tributes to Natalia Makarova, Patricia McBride, and Carmen De Lavallade; an arts salute to Stephen Hawking for the World Science Festival; two Turnaround Arts performances at the White House and the first performance of the White House Dance Series, all hosted by Michelle Obama. Woetzel has collaborated on numerous performances and initiatives with Yo-Yo Ma, including the Silk Road Connect program in the New York City public schools. In 2009, Woetzel became the founding director of the Jerome Robbins Foundation’s New Essential Works (NEW) Program, a five-year program that initiated grants to support the production of 35 new dance works. In 2009, President Obama appointed Woetzel to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and he served throughout the Obama administration. Woetzel holds a Master in Public Administration degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and has been a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School. He received the Harvard Arts Medal in 2015, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Rafael Yuste is Professor of Biological Sciences and Neuroscience at Columbia University. He studies the function and pathology of the cerebral cortex, using optical methods to measure and modify the activity of its neural circuits. Yuste obtained his M.D. at the Universidad Autónoma in Madrid. After working in Sydney Brenner’s laboratory at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, he was a Ph.D. student with Larry Katz in Torsten Wiesel’s laboratory at Rockefeller University, and postdoctoral student of David Tank at Bell Laboratories. He joined Columbia in 1996 and is currently director of its Neurotechnology Center and co-director of its Kavli Institute for Brain Circuits. In 2011 Yuste led a small group of researchers who proposed the Brain Activity Map, precursor to the US BRAIN Initiative, and in 2016 he helped coordinate the launch of an International BRAIN Initiative. He is presently involved in establishing ethical guidelines for Neurotechnology and Artificial Intelligence (“NeuroRights”). Yuste has obtained awards from the Mayor of New York City, the Society for Neuroscience and the Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. He is a member of Spain’s Royal Academies of Medicine and of Science.