Elizabeth (Betsy) Coker is a dancer, dance-maker, scientist, and teacher. She is co-Artistic Director of Seán Curran Company and Assistant Arts Professor of Dance at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts.
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 trained at the Washington Ballet and 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. She directs the NYU/Tisch Dance Summer High School program, a 4-week contemporary dance and composition program for inspired young dance artists.
Courses developed and taught at NYU/Tisch Department of Dance
Course Goals: Explore individual-oriented, anatomical strategies for creating classical movement patterns while honoring the traditional roots of balletic pedagogy. Attend to details of classical style as well as implications of alignment, momentum, and quality. Emphasize students’ ability to problem-solve within prescribed boundaries of ballet technique. Enable students to feel creative, empowered, and responsible for their own movement style within classical movement repertoire.
Course Goals: Grounded in rigorous, anatomically-informed studies emphasizing alignment, strength, and effort flow. Build smaller exercises towards large movement phrases that are restructured across the week to challenge cognitive engagement as well as physical and rhythmic transitions. Develop strategies for athletic floor-work and inversions, delve into set repertory phrases with a focus on performative intent, dynamic range and qualitative states.
THE SCIENCE OF MOVEMENT
The Science of Movement introduces students to the multidisciplinary field of motor learning and control. Main goals of the course include creating understanding of how the body and brain interact as a dynamic system, investigating neurophysiological correlates of human movement, and building practical knowledge about teaching and learning applications of current research in the movement sciences. The course is divided into three sections: Motor Performance, Motor Learning, and Topics. The first two sections introduce foundational concepts in neuro-motor control and learning, while the third section focuses on contemporary research in specific topics such as balance/locomotion, motor disorders, mental practice, and elite performance.
RESEARCH TOPICS IN DANCE SCIENCE
Research Topics in Dance Science is a seminar-style course focused on the production of scientific and pedagogical knowledge in dance. This course addresses issues specific to current research in dance from multiples perspectives including neuro-cognition, motor learning, elite performance, and teaching. We discuss how and where research in dance is created, who accesses the literature, and how knowledge is applied contextually to the studio, onstage and clinically. The course is grounded in principles of scientific literacy and critical interrogation of scientific texts. Students create their own research questions, culminating in a formal proposal of investigation.
Mental simulation techniques for orthopedic rehabilitation
Interdisciplinary experiment resulting in three distinct products: 1) empirical research study comparing the validity of smartphone accelerometry to “gold-standard” clinical force plate measures in dance movements; 2) smartphone application providing biofeedback linked to balance qualities; 3) choreographic work exploring concepts of balance, informed by creative experimentation with biofeedback technology.
Created through a fellowship with NYU's Center for Ballet and the Arts
Fully Remote Balance Measurement
Development and feasibility testing of a fully-remote method for measuring standing balance using a custom iPhone application and video conferencing. Particular interest in the application of remote technologies to distinguish the effects of age, visual condition, and cognitive load on balance control.
Feeling, Seeing, Hearing Balance: Empirics and Poetics of Movement
Clinical uses of motor imagery and action observation in post-operative orthopedic rehabilitation of dancers and athletes. Secondary interest in the development of accessible EEG technology for the measurement and description of mental simulation behaviors.
Visual Dependence and Balance in Dancers: Adapting a Virtual Reality Paradigm
Collaboration with NYU/Steinhardt Physical Therapy comparing dynamic postural control strategies during a dance-specific balance task in healthy elite dancers and elite dancers with a history of ankle inversion injury. We take a particular interest in further developing applications of accessible technologies including VR and smartphone accelerometry towards this aim.
Coker, E., & Kaminski, T., (2020). "Effect of Visual Condition on Performance of Balance-Related Tasks in Elite Dance Students". Motor Control. Advance online publication. 10.1123/mc.2019-0032.
Coker, E. & Kaminski, T. (2019). The effect of lighting level on balance in dancers. Poster session presenting at International Society of Gait and Posture Research World Congress, Edinburgh, UK.
Coker, E. (2019). Smartphone accelerometry and balance assessment in dancers: Future applications. Lecture presenting at International Association of Dance Medicine and Science 29thAnnual Conference, Montreal, Canada.
Coker, E., McIsaac, T. & Nilsen, D. (2015). Motor imagery modality in expert dancers: an investigation of hip and pelvis kinematics in demi-plié and sauté. Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, 19(2), 63-39.
Coker Giron, E., McIsaac, T. & Nilsen, D. (2012). Effects of kinesthetic versus visual imagery on two technical dance movements: A pilot study. Journal of Dance Medicine and Science.16(1), 36-3.
Wolf Trap Opera (Vienna, VA)
Merlin's Island & The Emperor of Atlantis (dir. Richard Gammon, chor. Elizabeth Coker)
Jack Crystal Theater (NY, NY)
Odawara 3D (chor. Elizabeth Coker)
June 9, 2018
Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival (Detroit, MI)
Trouble in Tahiti (dir. Richard Gammon, chor. Elizabeth Coker)
Oct 5, 2018
Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center (Birmingham, AL)
Seán Curran Company with Third Coast Percussion
Oct 24-27, 2018
Brooklyn Academy of Music (NY, NY)
Seán Curran Company with Third Coast Percussion
Dec 1-9, 2018
Guggenheim Museum Works and Process (NY, NY)
Peter and the Wolf (dir. Isaac Mizrahi, chor. John Heginbotham)