Neuroscience, Games, and Data in Dance

Natalie Monger Computer Science, Natalie, Service, Viterbi Class, Viterbi Life, Viterbi Plus

Many students coming to college for engineering want to know if it’s possible to take classes in other areas, or electives as we call them. My answer is always… YES!

I wrote about an elective I took this semester, Future Cinema, during the middle of the semester, and I now want to write about two other electives I took as well, which counted for my Dance Minor: 1) Neuroscience of Dance and Games for Health and 2) Dance and New Media.

Neuroscience of Dance and Games for Health

For Neuroscience of Dance and Games for Health, we collaborated with a class of Master’s students from the School of Cinematic Arts’ Media Arts + Practice program. The collaboration of the two classes created an interesting intersection of inquiry: dance, technology, health, and data. While I had already been interested in exploring technology’s effect on dance before I took this class, I had never thought about bringing health into the picture, and this is just an example of how taking classes outside of your assigned course plan can lead you to passions you may not have found otherwise.

Over the course of the semester, we mostly experimented with William Forsythe’s improvisation technologies. Forsythe is a prominent choreographer and creative thinker in the dance world, and I have been following his impact on the dance world since I was introduced to his work in high school. It’s amazing that I am now studying under professors that have worked with him directly and using his systems to further my research.

Our main goal for the semester was to come up with a plan for conducting studies on children with autism to notice how dance and human movement can positively impact the lives of others. On the last day of class, we did a simulation of our variations on Forsythe’s RYGB exercise, and it was so fun!

I really enjoyed this class and want to continue the research the class started, so, next semester, I’ll be working on putting these games into VR to see where that can take us. I’m not sure how it will turn out, but that’s the point of research, right?


Dance and New Media

My Dance and New Media class was another favorite of mine. Each class, we had great conversations about the history of media in dance and how we can impact the future of it. I am a total nerd when it comes to studying computer graphics and animation technologies in dance, so I always left this class feeling inspired to do more research and build more projects.

Another thing I loved about this class is that it provided the history behind dance media. I strongly believe that, as engineers, we need to understand what the foundations are for what we are working on today–in order to build new and great things for society, we have to appreciate what came before us. I already spend lots of time coding, solving problems, and learning algorithms, so giving myself time to get into deep conversations about the theory and history behind what I’m studying is such a treat.


Both of these classes expanded my interests in my fields of research, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I recommend you treat yourself to some fun electives sometime during college. They can only expand your experiences even more!

About the Author

Natalie is a junior studying Computer Science/Business and Dance. Click the photo above to find out more.

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