Movement Studies
Hannah Castoro, Dance and Theatre Faculty

Movement Studies activity to support cognitive functioning through creative movement and collaborative exercises. Creative movement uses a variety of cognitive skills that engage multiple intelligences

I frequently reflect on the fact that everyone learns differently. This interest has led me to consider what influences the learning process, how community impacts an individual in their learning context, and how to create educational settings that support cognitive development. As a dance educator, I am deeply influenced by all that dance can offer. I have personally gained many skills surrounding responsibility, discipline, and self-awareness that have guided my life and the lives of my students. While studying my master's degree in the Dance Education program at NYU Steinhardt, I did research about movement and its influence on cognition and have gained more knowledge to support the idea that movement positively influences the learning process. Cognitive and social development can be hindered without any involvement of physical activity (Tomporowski, Davis, Miller, & Naglieri, 2007). Increased blood flow and oxygen due to exercise creates a healthy mind for better focus, attention, and problem-solving. What makes dance unique is that it connects movement and cognition to create an experience. Physically engaging in a task supports memory and the development of learning as the body connects to its thoughts (Inglis et al., 2014). Dance experiences also provide opportunities to connect to others which contributes greatly to cognitive development.

At Purnell, our goal is to create educational opportunities for students who thrive in smaller learning environments or have learning differences. This year we have introduced a Movement Studies activity to support cognitive functioning through creative movement and collaborative exercises. Creative movement uses a variety of cognitive skills that engage multiple intelligences. In addition, students will take time to do reflective and constructive feedback as they keep journals and share their ideas with others. They will practice citizenship, courage, creativity, and critical thinking as they participate with their classmates.

By providing opportunities for our students to express themselves creatively, they will grow intellectually and socially. Although participating in creative movement exercises in the Movement Studies activity may be intimidating at first, it is important to remember that there are no rules when it comes to self-expression. Every individual has their own process, and that is okay. Stepping out of the place where we feel most comfortable often allows us to find hidden strengths. Encouraging students to engage with others while in a safe environment, where positive feedback and freedom of self-expression are at the root, will eventually open doors for them to be themselves and to be successful.


Hannah Castoro
Dance and Theatre Faculty

BFA, Dance
MA, Dance Education
ABT NTC Certification