Columbia University in the City of New York

Mar 22, 20226:30 pm
Performance and Dialogue

THE BRAIN at the BARRE: Muscle Memory… is that a thing?

Dance Theatre of Harlem and Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute partner to bring you inside both the body and mind of a dancer.

March 22nd, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm at Online

Register here

Science and the arts come together in this pair of free events which explore the relationship between our brains and dance. Dance Theatre of Harlem and Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute partner to bring you inside both the body and mind of a dancer. In this pair of events, we will explore the concept of muscle memory and how we can harness neuroplasticity to learn and perform dance.


In Muscle Memory… is that a thing? scientist and dancer Gregory Youdan and Assistant Arts Professor Elizabeth Coker will introduce us to how we learn and refine our movements, in discussion with Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers Amanda Smith, Dylan Santos, and Derek Brockington. The dancers will complement the discussion with live dance performances of excerpts from Balamouk to illustrate the concepts.


Registration is optional but recommended: we will email you the link for the event closer to the event date, and send you a reminder on the date itself.

**Join us for the second of this pair of events on March 29, 2022, at 6:30 pm when we will host an online workshop with Gregory Youdan, Anthony Santos, and Delaney Washington. Click HERE to find out more.

About the speakers and performers

Gregory Youdan Jr., MA, MS performed as a dancer with the NY Baroque Dance Company, Sokolow Theatre/Dance, David Parker and the Bang Group, and Heidi Latsky dance, where he now serves as a board member. Currently, Greg is a visiting research scholar at Brown University and an adjunct lecturer at Lehman College. He is a Westheimer Fellow through Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD program and is a teaching artist in their Dance for PD en Español. As a scientist, Greg researches dance for health interventions for people with neurological conditions. He was a 2021 Latin Impact Honoree. Greg serves on the development committee for the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS), the research committee for the National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH), and the advisory council for Dance Data Project. 

Elizabeth (Betsy) Coker, EdD is a scientist, dancer, and teacher. She is an Assistant Arts Professor of Dance at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts and co-Artistic Director of Seán Curran Company. Coker received her master’s and doctorate degrees in Motor Learning and Control from Teachers College, Columbia University and holds a BA in Psychology (concentration in Dance) from Columbia University. Prior to initiating her academic career, she performed with the Washington Ballet and trained at the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. Coker’s areas of research include postural control, motion capture technologies, and motor imagery in dancers. Her work has appeared in a variety of media including scientific journals, field publications, documentary film and radio. Additionally, she has taught, created and set choreography with students and professionals across the country as well as at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Opera de Montreal, San Diego Opera, Opera Lafayette, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, and Yale Repertory Theater. 

Amanda Smith was born in Orange County, CA, trained with Charlotte Ballet, SUNY Purchase, Joffrey Ballet School, Anaheim Ballet, Pointe of Grace, Ballet Pacifica, and has performed with Charlotte Ballet, New York Theatre Ballet, Black Iris Project.  Her repertoire includes works by George Balanchine, Mark Diamond, Sasha James, Dwight Rhoden, Alonzo King, Jiri Killian, Dianne McIntyre and Helen Pickett. This is her fifth season with the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Dylan Santos was born in São Paulo, Brazil and trained with Centro de Artes Pavilhao D under Ricardo Scheir and Harid Conservatory. Dylan’s professional experience includes Houston Ballet trainee, Orlando Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Chicago, and Paris Opera Ballet. Repertoire includes works by George Balanchine, Nacho Duato, Robert Garland, and Ulysses Dove, and Marius Petipa. This is Dylan’s eighth season with Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Derek Brockington was born in Chicago, IL, and raised in Holland, MI. He trained at Grand Rapids Ballet School, Interlochen Arts Academy, Ballet West and Pennsylvania Ballet Summer Intensives. His professional Experience includes Cincinnati Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet.  Repertoire includes works by Claudia Schreier, Robert Garland, Stanton Welch, George Balanchine, Anabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Darrell Grand Moultrie. Along with DTH’s Alexandra Hutchinson, he coordinates DTH Social Media. This is his fourth season with Dance Theatre of Harlem.


Questions? Please email [email protected]


The BRAIN at the BARRE is supported by the Dana Foundation’s Brain Awareness Week Outreach Grants Program.

For those wishing to attend this event virtually, stream the event here via YouTube:

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