Dancing to Learn: The Brain’s Cognition, Emotion, and Movement

Dancing to Learn: The Brain's Cognition, Emotion, and Movement

Dear Colleagues,

I am working on a book, Dancing to Learn: The Brain’s Cognition, Emotion, and Movement, to be published by Rowman and Littlefield Education. The book explores the rationale for dance as a medium of learning (dance in itself and other subjects) to help deeply root dance education programs and to encourage scientists to continue to explore the underpinnings of dance.

In this book I draw upon current knowledge about the brain, evolutionary biology, and culture that is applicable to dance in a rapidly changing society which requires learning, adapting, and acquiring new strategies to fulfill one’s potential and achieve well-being. I marshal research that supports the understanding of dance as (1) nonverbal language with similar places and education processes in the brain as verbal language, thus a powerful means of expression, (2) physical exercise that sparks new brain cells (neurogenesis and neural plasticity, the brain’s amazing abil­ity to change through­out life—great for seniors– I’m dancing–flamenco, belly dance, jazz, and salsa!), and (3) a means to help us cope with stress that can motivate or interfere with learning. We acquire knowledge and develop cognitively because dance bulks up the brain and, consequently, dance in itself, as an art, recreational, educational, and or therapeutic form, is a good investment in the brain. The “brain that dances” is changed by it.

Because there is a lag between completed research and its publication, I would appreciate learning about any new research on dance and the brain, the impact of dance education, and evaluations of successful programs.

I am describing the various ways of offering dance education, from kids to adults.  Alas, some of the programs I described in Partnering Dance and Education and my article Educational Researcher no longer exist.

I am also looking for excellent action images of dance learning – any age or setting.  Images must be in 300 dpi, in tiff format, and 1000×1000 pixels.  Permission of the dancers (parents’ sign for kids) and photographer is necessary.  If you wish to contribute a photograph to my book, I will send you  release/permission forms for the photographer and participants.

Your help would be greatly appreciated.


Judith Lynne Hanna, Ph.D., Anthropology, U of Maryland. www.judithhanna.com

contact: [email protected], 301 365 5683