For the past three years, the University of Maryland and the University of Houston have conducted a joint research study on dancers, studying their ability to their conclusion is that dancers brains seem to be programmed differently than those who do not dance. The study shows that dancers uses multiple areas of their brain all at once when dancing - one part controls movement, another generates movement qualities, and they work together to do the movement and make decisions.
This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise - as dancers, we know that our craft is good for our brains. Dancers have to have complete control over our bodies, while balancing choreography and often acting as a certain character onstage. Karen Kohn Bradley, director of graduate studies at the University of Maryland, puts like this: "When you see dancers who are dancing beautifully, their whole brain is being engaged. They are thinking about the sequence, focus, timing and qualities of lightness and strength all at once."
It's not completely clear if people are born with these brain patterns, or develop them over time. Regardless, the study does help us understand how dancers can process choreography in the moment and retain it over time. The research is also incredibly valuable for dance education. "We've all heard of the laser beam shooting out of the leg to improve battement technique...but we also need imagery that evokes feeling."
Read more of the interview at Dance Magazine