Catherine Stevens

Dr Catherine (Kate) Stevens applies experimental psychology methods to the study of auditory and temporal phenomena including music, dance, and environmental sounds. She holds BA (Hons) and PhD degrees from the University of Sydney. Kate is an Associate Professor in Psychology, MARCS Auditory Laboratories at the University of Western Sydney.



Choreographic cognition: researching dance 1999–2008

An overview of the three linked choreographic cognition research projects Unspoken Knowledges (1999 – 2001), which looked at expanding industry productivity and value through strategic research into choreographic practice, Conceiving Connections (2002 – 2004), which looked at increasing industry viability through analysis of audience response to dance and Intention and Serendipity (2005 – 2008), which investigated improvisation, symbolism and memory in creating Australian contemporary dance.

Conceiving connections—further choreographic research

The Conceiving Connections project investigated how audiences respond to highly evolved dance-works. What elements encourage audiences to respond to dance works with insight, pleasure and understanding? How do previous knowledge, experience, and information about new works affect audience responses? What can we discover about the relationship between cognitive, aesthetic, emotional and kinaesthetic responses to particular dance works?


investigating the psychological processes involved in creating and responding to contemporary dance

Catherine Stevens and Renee Glass (MARCS Auditory Laboratories, University of Western Sydney) describe their different methods and tools of analysis to investigate how the mind works when creating and/or watching dance or movement. Methods include a case study of choreographic cognition and development and application of a psychometric instrument called the Audience Response Tool.

Measuring responses to dance: is there a ‘grammar’ of dance?

This paper reports on a series of experiments that measured the continuous, real time responses of a group of dance students to a range of different dances. Our findings invite a critical consideration of whether notions of ‘surface’ and ‘deep’ structure might be more deeply embedded in the students’ responses to dance than intertextual or poststructuralist dance analysis might predict. This paper will examine the implications of this idea for how dance students might learn to watch, interpret, and therefore to create dance, and how these implications might impact on approaches to choreographic training.

A quantitative approach to analysing reliability of engagement responses to dance

The present paper applies a new analytic method to facilitate a more objective approach to identifying periods of significant responses to dance assessment tasks (aesthetic, adjudication, etc). The ultimate aim is to allow dance researchers to collect continuous response data and to input a choreographic event list in a time line format. These data will be used to identify key moments, and thus new insights into the aesthetic and other time dependent responses to dance, and to cognitive and choreographic aspects of dance construction and performance, in a quasi-scientific way.

Moving mind: the cognitive psychology of contemporary dance

The production, performance and perception of music has been studied in detail by cognitive psychologists. Music has been recognized as a window into cognition. The status of dance, however, is less clear. The authors propose that contemporary dance too affords insight into human cognition and can be powerfully communicative.