Mobilizing the Hippocampus

Making Dance Together: Reigniting the Creative Spark

National Dance Education Organization’s 2022 Annual Conference, Atlanta, Georgia

October 29-31, 2022

This presentation offers a model to create synergy between the arts and the sciences. This research grew out of a seminar called “Mobilizing the Hippocampus,” co-taught by Professors Barbie Diewald (Dance) and Marta Sabariego (Neuroscience).  The premise of the course was two-fold: to move into complex neuroscience topics through choreographic scores, and to deepen creative research and expression by examining the mechanics of memory. Our multi-modal approach allowed students to learn about neuroscience in the classroom and embody that learning through movement structures in the studio.  This shared pedagogical inquiry brought neuroscience and dance into concrete relation, while stimulating a heightened understanding of both disciplines.  In our session, we will share insights about the development and execution of our course, discuss student outcomes, and provide examples of assignments, lessons, and choreographic exercises. 

Click here to access the syllabus for Prof. Diewald and Prof. Sabariego’s 300-level course, “Mobilizing the Hippocampus”

American College Dance Association

2022 Annual New England Regional Conference, Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont

March 26, 2022

I adapted my Mobilizing the Hippocampus presentation into an interactive workshop for a student-centered conference at Middlebury College. An Associate Professor of Dance at another New England university wrote a peer evaluation letter after attending my session. I have included an excerpt:

“Diewald co-created the experience with the participants by inviting them to share their previous interest and knowledge on memory and the hippocampus. Interestingly, there were a number of neuroscience and/or psychology majors within the group. She then shaped the workshop to include, reference, and even allowed the students with extensive knowledge on the topic to lead. I mention this, because it takes a certain sensitivity and vulnerability for a professor to break open the student/teacher power dynamic. Diewald orchestrated this beautifully with care and craft while continuing her goal of the class.

“The workshop proceeded with factual learning and then moved into applied experiences for the students to experiment, discover, and be challenged. Diewald emphasized that the embodiment, i.e. application, of the scientific theory is what dance inherently does. Coincidentally, all of the students in the workshop were double majors with a focus in dance and another study. Just as Diewald, they too were discovering the intersections of dance and another field by asking how does dance enhance, inform, and transform these areas. Based on the chatter among the students after the class, there was much interest and excitement in continuing to explore the topic of memory and dance.

“This workshop experience confirmed my respect for the Diewald’s work. She is a talented educator, researcher, and dance practitioner and a great asset to the campus community and the greater dance field.”