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Creativity, Novelty and Imagination

Trinity Laban, Coventry University and Plymouth University were awarded almost £250,000 from the Leverhulme Trust to conduct a three year (2014-17), in-depth analysis of the mental imagery used by performers to push the boundaries of contemporary dance.

The aim of the study was to examine what enables dancers to more effectively use mental imagery to generate novel movement material. It also examined how such mental techniques and methods can be taught most effectively, with a view to developing enhanced training programmes for aspiring dancers to employ. The Leverhulme grant also provided funding for two PhD student researchers for Trinity Laban and Coventry University.

Professor Emma Redding, Head of Trinity Laban Dance Science, said: “The Leverhulme grant enabled teachers to share their practice of teaching choreography, psychologists to understand more about how dancers think when they move, and dancers to discover how to enhance their own creativity. The project brought together creative practitioners and dance science researchers to ask important unanswered questions regarding how dancers think when they create, those questions which can only be properly investigated through interdisciplinary art and science research.”


Published research papers following this research project:

May, J., Redding, E., Whatley, S., Lucznik, K., Clements, L., Weber, R., Sikorski, J. & Reed, S. (2020). Enhancing creativity by training metacognitive skills in mental imagery. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 38.

Clements, L & Redding, E. (2019). Creativity in higher education contemporary dance: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. Journal of Dance Education. ISSN 1529-0824.

Clements, L. Redding, E., Lefebvre Sell, N. & May, J. (2018). Expertise in evaluating expert choreography: An online variation of the consensual assessment technique. Frontiers in Psychology: Performance Science.


More information and resources from this project can be found on the Plymouth University Blog.

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Leverhulme Trust

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Plymouth University