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‘Your Brain on Dance,’ With ECE Professor, Waltzes into Theater
January 20, 2022
By
Laurie Fickman
Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, director of the BRAIN Center at UH, has been pioneering nonsurgical brain-machine interfaces for rehabilitation and restoration of movement and to understand the brain in action in clinical, artistic and classroom settings.
Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, director of the BRAIN Center at UH, has been pioneering nonsurgical brain-machine interfaces for rehabilitation and restoration of movement and to understand the brain in action in clinical, artistic and classroom settings.
LiveWire explores the latest neuroscience discoveries with each of its five movements showcasing a different process of the human brain while artists wear brain caps. Photo courtesy: Lynn Lane.
LiveWire explores the latest neuroscience discoveries with each of its five movements showcasing a different process of the human brain while artists wear brain caps. Photo courtesy: Lynn Lane.

For two decades Musiqa and NobleMotion Dance have been breaking artistic boundaries in Houston and winning national acclaim for their adventurous programming. At the same time, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, director of the BRAIN Center at UH, has been pioneering nonsurgical brain-machine interfaces for rehabilitation and restoration of movement and to understand the brain in action in clinical, artistic and classroom settings.  

On Jan. 21 and 22, for the first time, the groups converge to present the world premiere of LiveWire at the Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston. LiveWire is an innovative collaboration between scientists, musicians and dancers who will wear EEG skull caps (brain caps), while performing a new work centered around a new string quartet by artistic director Anthony Brandt, set to choreography by Andy and Dionne Noble.  

LiveWire explores the latest neuroscience discoveries with each of its five movements showcasing a different process of the human brain.   

The performance also includes the Houston premieres of Pierre Jalbert’s Piano Quintet and Carlos Simon’s Loop for String Trio, as well as NobleMotion’s premiere of The Spider’s Den set to Lei Liang’s Gobi Gloria. NobleMotion’s dynamic Rhythm Study and artwork by Houston-based visual artist Emily Fens round out the program. 

Two years in the making, the evening’s titular work is a two-phase collaboration that begins in Houston and then goes to Virgina in April as part of an international Brain and Dance conference.  

“LiveWire will be performed again this spring at the 2022 International Workshop on the Neural and Social Bases of Creative Movement at Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts in Virginia,” Contreras-Vidal said. “Our January performance provides Houston audiences with the chance to see this exciting new work before it reaches an international audience.” 

The choreography and projection design respond to the music and are abstract visual representations of the brain’s plasticity. Soloist Evelyn Toh, wearing a brain cap, guides the audience through the inner landscape of her mind. Additional dancers reveal her brain’s activity as they glide and carve out new pathways, much like neurons alive inside our heads. Contreras-Vidal’s team will deploy mobile brain-body imaging technology to listen, map and record the dancer’s brain activity as part of his project, ‘Your Brain on Dance,’ which furthers research into how the mind initiates spontaneous and prepared movement and internalizes artistic experiences. Audience members will watch this experiment take place in real time. EEG recordings of the dancers will be used as part of University of Houston research.  

What: World premiere of LiveWire, an innovative collaboration between scientists, musicians and dancers who will wear EEG skull caps (brain caps), while performing a new work 

Who: Musiqa, NobleMotion Dance, Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, director of the BRAIN Center at the University of Houston and professor of electrical and computer engineering.

When: Friday, Jan. 21, 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m. Buy tickets here.

Where: Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH), 3400 Main Street, Houston TX 77002.

Details: Learn more about Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal here.  
Learn more about the BRAIN Center here.
Learn more about the Noninvasive Brain-Machine Interface Systems Laboratory here.

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