Society Fellow works with dance company

The Rambert Dance Company has appointed Nicky Clayton, Professor of Comparative Cognition at Cambridge University's Department of Experimental Psychology and newly admitted BPS Fellow, as their first Scientist in Residence.

Nicky previously worked with Rambert on 'Comedy of Change', a piece based on evolution. A new work, 'Seven for a secret, never to be told' uses her research on corvid cognition and behavioural development to present the world as seen through the eyes of some mischievous children. Her extensive knowledge of the behavioural development of children, particularly the role of play in enriching cognitive development, firstly through imitation and then reinvention or innovation, has given the creative team valuable insight.

As Scientist in Residence, Nicky will influence choreography with her scientific insights:

'My knowledge of science is used to develop the themes that inspire the movements that we incorporate into the pieces. I combine my knowledge of dance too to ensure I'm thinking of big picture concepts that can work for movement. I've used ideas from animal behaviour, birds and evolution for "Comedy of Change" and ideas about children and corvids for "Seven for a secret". The ideas are inspired by movements, behaviours and mental processes; some are mimicked - Jon Goddard's solo in Comedy was based on the bird of paradise's courtship dance - other ideas are more conceptual, based on mental processes.'

As well as working on new dance pieces, Nicky will develop educational workshops in which children gain understanding of scientific themes through their own experience of learning some of the choreography. She and Rambert's Artistic Director Mark Baldwin are also writing a book about their collaborative process, and will present a series of talks, the next on 2 October at the Royal Society Festival of Literature and the Arts.

You can watch a film about Nicky's work on Youtube.