Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Derrick Brown (Donders series 540)

31 March 2022

Promotor: Prof. dr. R.G.J. Meulenbroek

A Multi-level Analysis of Professional Dance: From Molecule to Movement
This thesis takes a two-pronged approach in investigating nutritional and motor-control aspects of professional dance. The connecting framework of this thesis has its theoretical foundation in the constraints theory which categorises three types of limiting factors of human performance, i.e. (1) organismic constraints, (2) environmental constraints, and (3) task constraints. These diverse determinants challenge the dancer’s attentional, motivational, action-related and decision-making information processes. Chapter 1 of the thesis scaffolds the neurocognitive underpinnings of dance performance at the individual level, arrived at through a systematic meta-analysis of the relevant literature. In Part 1 of the thesis, an overview is provided of how nutritional considerations - i.e. diets, diet supplements, and vegetarian or vegan diets - may enhance or thwart dance performance. In Part 2 of the thesis, motor control aspects of professional dance are scrutinized by first examining how the use of a mirror in dance education affects the movement choices of dance pupils moving together in a duo (Chapter 5). Subsequently, we examine individual differences when non-dancers are asked for the first time to practice the ‘wave’ in hip-hop dance (Chapter 6). The final chapter of the thesis investigates whether the environmental constraints of a mirror and a metronome facilitate or inhibit dance improvisation (Chapter 7). The thesis is completed with an epilogue focussing on the relevance of the empirical studies for professional dance education.