Melanie Lott is an assistant professor of astronomy and physics at Denison University.
Abstract: Much is known about how we sense and correct for perturbations from balance during standing or simple dynamic tasks such as walking. The simplest physical model of upright balance is that of an inverted pendulum, where balance is maintained by managing the torque due to gravity via the vertical alignment of the body’s center of mass (CoM) and the center of pressure (CoP) at the base of support. Research has shown that angular accelerations of body segments around the ankle and/or hip joints are used to achieve the overall task goal of CoM and CoP alignment during standing balance.
Little is known about how balance is maintained during rotational tasks, however, despite the fact that turning maneuvers are a fundamental part of human locomotion. In my research, this question is considered from the specific example of dancers rotating in ballet pirouettes. During a pirouette, a dancer completes some number of revolutions of the whole body around a vertical axis while balancing on one foot.
In this talk, we will consider a theoretical model of a dancer performing pirouettes to uncover the likelihood that dancers can perform many revolutions without making postural adjustments (much like a spinning top). I will then discuss the results of experimental studies of dancers performing pirouettes, in which high speed motion capture equipment was used to collect time series data of body segment positions and orientations during the turn and how principal components analysis (PCA) can be used to identify joint angle coordination strategies dancers use to maintain balance while rotating.
Lunch will be served from 11:50 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.
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