Inside Maida Withers’ MindFluctuations Dance Performance

In rehearsal, it takes MFA student and professional dancer Felicia Avalos a couple minutes to wrap the sleek, alien-like headset around her temples. Tiny sensors squeeze her brow like little tentacles, making her look like more prepped for the set of a science fiction film than a dance performance.

Ms. Avalos is wearing an Emotiv neuro headset. It tracks her brain waves as she bends and folds her body during a rehearsal for choreographer and professor Maida Withers’ newest show, MindFluctuations.

Ms. Withers helps to arrange the intriguing contraption around Ms. Avalos’ auburn hair. “There you go,” she murmured, and then asked Ms. Avalos to take her place in the center of the dance studio.

She is getting inside her dancers’ heads—literally. When MindFluctuations opens at Lisner Auditorium March 19, Ms. Avalos will perform in front of a 3D computer visualization created by computer artist Tania Fraga. The signals from her headset have been programmed to shift and change Ms. Fraga’s artwork based on brain activity and expressive states, providing a real-time interpretation of what’s going on in Ms. Avalos’ mind as she dances across the stage.

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