Vangeline Theater/ New York Butoh Institute Announces Free Public Showing of The Slowest Wave/Butoh and The Brain At University of Houston, Texas Student Center South Theater February 10, 2023 at 6pm

Vangeline Theater/ New York Butoh Institute announces a free public showing of The Slowest Wave/Butoh and The Brain, the culmination of an art-science performance-research study, on February 10, 2023 at 6pm at University of Houston, Student Center South Theater, 4455 University Dr #103/203, Houston, TX.  For more information and to RSVP, visit https://butohandthebrain.eventbrite.com.

This showing is being offered as part of a new study investigating the brain dynamics of dancers while they are performing Butoh, a postmodern dance style that originated in Japan, through the use of electroencephalography (EEG) to record the participants’ brain waves. The study is a collaboration between the New York-based Vangeline Theater dance company, the Laboratory for Noninvasive Brain-Machine Interface Systems, IUCRC BRAIN Center, The Rockefeller University, and the Neurobiology of Social Communication Lab (funded by the City University of New York, Rockefeller University and New York University).

In collaboration with neuroscientists Sadye Paez and Constantina Theofanopoulou, neuroengineer Jose ‘Pepe’ Contreras-Vidal, and composer Ray Sweeten, Vangeline choreographed a 60-minute ensemble Butoh piece, which is uniquely informed by the protocol established for a scientific pilot study researching the impact of Butoh on brain activity during Butoh dancing. For the groundbreaking art-science study, dancers’ brain activity will be recorded at the University of Houston, Texas, with real-time visualization of the dancers’ neural activity. Results will then be disseminated in scientific journals.

Vangeline and Sweeten have built on a 20-year history of creative collaboration with a soundscape that is informed by techniques of brainwave entrainment (techniques that affect consciousness through sound). The Slowest Wave investigates through the use of scalp EEG how brain waves during Butoh dancing compare to those emitted during other conscious or unconscious motor behaviors, such as speaking or meditating.  Moreover, the study will elucidate the functional neural networks of the dancers and the neural synchrony within and between them. This project is meant to foster connections and understanding between dancers, artists, scientists, engineers, and audiences from around the world.


Vangeline is a teacher, dancer, and choreographer specializing in Japanese Butoh. She is the artistic director of the Vangeline Theater/New York Butoh Institute (New York), a dance company firmly rooted in the tradition of Japanese butoh while carrying it into the twenty-first century.

With her all-female dance company, Vangeline’s socially conscious performances tie together butoh and activism. Vangeline is the founder of the New York Butoh Institute Festival, which elevates the visibility of women in butoh, and the Queer Butoh festival. She pioneered the award-winning, 15-year running program The Dream a Dream Project, which brings Butoh dance to incarcerated men and women at correctional facilities across New York State. Her choreographed work has been performed in Chile, Hong Kong, Germany, Denmark, France, the UK, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

She is the winner of a 2022 National Endowment for the Arts Dance Award; is a 2018 NYFA/NYSCA Artist Fellow in Choreography for Elsewhere, and the winner of the 2015 Gibney Dance Social Action Award, as well as the 2019 Janet Arnold Award from the Society of Antiquaries of London.

Vangeline has taught at Cornell University, New York University, Brooklyn College, CUNY, Sarah Lawrence, and Princeton University (Princeton Atelier). Film projects include a starring role alongside actors James Franco and Winona Ryder in the feature film by director Jay Anania, ‘The Letter” (2012-Lionsgate). In recent years, she has been commissioned by triple Grammy Award-winning artists Esperanza Spalding, Skrillex, and David J. (Bauhaus). She is the author of the critically-acclaimed book: Butoh: Cradling Empty Space. Her work is the subject of CNN’s “Great Big Story” “Learning to Dance with your Demons.” She is also featured on BBC’s podcast Deeply Human with host Dessa (episode 2 of 12 : Why We Dance) and is a member of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. www.vangeline.com

VANGELINE THEATER/ NEW YORK BUTOH INSTITUTE aims to preserve the legacy and integrity of Japanese Butoh while carrying the art form well into the future. The unique art of Butoh originated in post-World War II Japan as a reaction to the loss of identity caused by the westernization of Japanese culture, as well as a realization that ancient Japanese performing traditions no longer spoke to a contemporary audience. The Vangeline Theater is home to the New York Butoh Institute, dedicated to the advancement of Butoh in the 21st century.

Sadye Paez is a      Visiting Scholar at the New York University’s Center for Ballet and the Arts and a Senior Research Associate in the Neurogenetics of Language Laboratory (Erich D. Jarvis) at The Rockefeller University, studying the neurobiology and genetic basis of why humans dance. She is also currently the science communications director for the Vertebrate Genomes Project (VGP), which aims to generate near error-free reference genome assemblies of all ~70,000 living vertebrate species. Sadye’s specific research efforts with these genomic projects focus on the sixth mass extinction and conservation. Sadye’s early training as a physiotherapist and biomechanist laid the underpinnings for her current work in understanding the evolution of dance. She earned her undergraduate and master degrees at the University of Central Florida in Micro and Molecular Biology and Physiotherapy, respectively, and her PhD in Biomechanics/Human Movement Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill). She was previously an Assistant Professor in Physiotherapy in the Schools of Medicine at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill. Decolonizing science by addressing the principles, processes, and practices that shape STEM culture is Sadye’s passion. She is currently an inaugural chair of the justice, equity, diversity and inclusion committee for the EBP. She is involved with Women in Science at Rockefeller (WISeR); she has also participated in Science Saturday, a STEM festival for K-8 students and their families. Sadye is also a competitive Latin dancer.

Constantina Theofanopoulou is an Associate Research Professor at Hunter College, City University of New York, a Visiting Associate Professor at Rockefeller University and a      Visiting Scholar at New York University. She is interested in understanding the neurobiology of social communication, in complex human behaviors, such as speech and dance. In her trajectory so far, she has led and collaborated in studies ranging from behavioral neuroscience to comparative genomics. Her studies have been published in impactful scientific journals (e.g., Nature, Proceedings of Royal Society B) and her findings have attracted media’s interest worldwide (e.g., Science), while she has been invited to give ~60 lectures, including at Harvard Medical School and Columbia University. Dr. Theofanopoulou has received more than 20 awards for her scientific studies, including the distinction in the Forbes 2021 list of the 30 most successful scientists under the age of 30. Dr. Theofanopoulou is also actively involved in the dissemination of science to the general public and in inspirational speech (e.g., speech at the University of Yale, TED talk), as well as in the support of underrepresented minorities in science. She has served as STEM mentor in the New York Academy of Sciences, teaching Life Sciences to elementary and middle school students in underserved communities throughout NYC, and in 2021, she was voted networking coordinator at the Council of the Rockefeller Inclusive Science Initiative. Lastly, Constantina is a flamenco dancer, having performed in many solo and group shows worldwide; in 2012, she was awarded with the first prize of the Spanish Dance Society.

Jose ‘Pepe’ Contreras-Vidal, PhD (Fellow IEEE, Fellow AIMBE) is Cullen Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the NSF Research Center for Building Reliable Advances and Innovations in Neurotechnology (IUCRC BRAIN) at the University of Houston. He has pioneered noninvasive brain-machine interfaces to exoskeletons and prosthetics to restore motor function in individuals with disabilities. His work at the nexus of art and science is opening new windows to study the neural basis of human creativity in children and adults while informing neuroaesthetics, neural interfaces, and the power of the arts (dance, music, visual art) as a modulator of brain activity. Dr. Contreras-Vidal has collaborated with many performing and visual artists to investigate the neural basis of creativity; most recently, he collaborated with Tony Brandt, a Professor of Composition and Theory at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and Artistic Director of the new music ensemble Musiqa, and Noble Motion Dance Company on “LiveWire,” a new ballet in which each section was inspired by a different feature of brain behavior.  Two of the dancers were outfitted with EEG caps that monitored their brains during the rehearsal and performance. To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, a new chamber work titled Diabelli 200, one of four winners of the 2022 Performing Arts Houston competition, will be premiered in Houston on February 25, 2023. Diabelli 200, composed by Tony Brand, reveals the inner workings of human imagination and will feature flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, and cello (Musiqa) while showcasing cutting-edge mobile brain-body neurotechnology to visualize the brain in action. Dr. Contreras-Vidal edited the Springer book Mobile Brain-Body Imaging and the Neuroscience of Art, Innovation, and Creativity. He was the co-chair of the 2022 International Workshop on the Social and Neural Bases of Creative Movement held at the Wolf Trap National Center for the Performing Arts. His career development in biomedical engineering was highlighted by the journal Science. Dr. Contreras-Vidal has received many awards and honors, including being named a Senior Research Scholar by the City of Paris, France, a Fellow of the Human Frontiers Science Program, and named a member of the National Advisory Board for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NABMRR) at the National Institute of Health. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, DARPA, Industry and Philanthropy. His research has appeared in The Economist, Nature, Science, Der Spiegel, and Wall Street Journal, among others. 

Ray Sweeten aka Barragan-Sweeten (b. 1975) is a visual artist & sound maker based in New York and Rhode Island. He has performed and screened works at Moma/PS1, San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, New York Film Festival, Anthology Film Archive, Issue Project Room, Participant Gallery, Microscope Gallery, The Kitchen, Roulette, and toured throughout Europe as a member of Fabrica Musica. He has released music as f13 on Beige Records, and as The Mitgang Audio on Suction Records. In 2010 he co-founded DataSpaceTime with visual artist Lisa Gwilliam and has exhibited, performed and screened works at Centre Pompidou, Parish Museum, City Center NY, Microscope Gallery, AS220, Next Festival at BAM, Florida Atlantic University, Cica Museum. He has taught at Guggenheim Museum and was guest artist faculty at Sarah Lawrence with L. Gwilliam. DataSpaceTime is represented by Microscope Gallery in NYC.

Badie Khaleghian is a composer and multimedia artist interested in collaborative and innovative storytelling projects to ignite imaginations, conversations, and experiences. He creates performances embracing the intersection of art, cultures, science, technology, and people. His works have been included in festivals such as the Atemporanea Festival (Buenos Aires City, Argentina), Korea Electro-Acoustic Music Society’s Annual Conference (Seoul, Korea), Ammerman Center’s Biennial Symposium on Arts and Technology, Omaha Under the Radar, Alba Music Festival (Italy), and performed by ensembles such as Crossing Borders, Hub New Music, Talea Ensemble, Transient Canvas, and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He currently lives in Houston, Texas, pursuing his doctorate degree in composition at Rice University while composing, teaching, and researching.

The Slowest Wave is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the NSF IUCRC BRAIN Center at the University of Houston, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.