Antwerp HeArts wil de bestaande expertise verder uitbouwen door wetenschappelijk onderzoek. Interprofessioneel, internationaal en in samenwerking met zo veel mogelijk stakeholders, van gezondheidsprofessionals en academici over overheden en instanties tot het artistieke werkveld.

Het onderzoek bij Antwerp HeArts wordt gecoördineerd door prof. dr. Nathalie Roussel (Universiteit Antwerpen, vakgroep REVAKI).

Lopende onderzoeken

Research on optimization of the expressive power of actors on the basis of the method of Biological Acting (Troubleyn/Jan Fabre)

Belgium based theatre director and visual artist Jan Fabre developed a performance language which is heavily indebted to a biomedical discourse. Placing great importance on the balance of the body, the use of the joints, the articulation of head, trunk and limbs, the tension of the muscles and on working with a transfer of weight, he searches for an expression that takes the physical condition of the performer as a starting point. In 2012 Fabre approached the M²OCEAN movement analysis lab at the University of Antwerp with the question if we could find a way to describe and quantify the motor control and movement coordination of his performing artists. This led to an interesting collaboration between theater sciences and movement sciences, exploring the performance of the performer.  The research is framed within the European research platform Labo21: An interdisciplinary research on artistic methodology. M²OCEAN and Troubleyn/Jan Fabre are also partners of an IWT - CICI project A body of Knowledge that aims to develop a pedagogical tool to visualise and communicate Fabre's performative language. 

This research is performed in collaboration between

Scientific Output:

  • Do Performers' Experience and Sex Affect Their Performance; Jacobs E, Roussel N, Van Caekenberghe I, Cassiers E, Van den Dries L, Rutgeerts J, Gielen J,Hallemans A.; Motor Control. 2016 Apr 25. [Epub ahead of print].
  • Physiological performing exercises by Jan Fabre: an additional training method for contemporary performers; Cassiers Edith, Rutgeerts Jonas, van den Dries Luk, De Somviele Charlotte, Gielen Jan, Hallemans Ann, Van Moorsel Annouk, Roussel Nathalie; Theatre, Dance and Performance Training - ISSN 1944-3927 - 6:3(2015), p. 273-290  - Full text (DOI editor) - Full text (open access).
  • Exploring the biomedical paradigm in the work of Jan Fabre; Roussel Nathalie, Hallemans Ann, Rutgeerts Jonas, Gielen Jan, van den Dries Luk; Performance research : a journal of performing arts - ISSN 1352-8165 - 19:4(2014), p. 45-53 - Full text (DOI editor).

Effects of a Tai-Chi intervention on sound parameters and bodily movements in marimba players

Previous research in Tai Chi philosophy and marimba literature have shown some traces of connection between marimba practice and Tai Chi. As Tai Chi not only is practiced as a martial art form, it is also situated in a philosophical context and the depth of its principles supports the Tai Chi movements (Tai Chi Chuan). The hypothesis is that the development of marimba playing techniques may benefit from the art of Tai Chi as it may assist marimba students to develop a healthy performance approach and exploring a wider range of body movements in marimba practice. Meanwhile, several studies have demonstrated the important aspects in marimba practice, such as: the feature in different grips, sound production, tone color, and expressiveness in musical performance.

In order to provide supporting evidences to the hypothesis, this research collaborates with the department of the Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy (Revaki) and the Acoustic Recording Services (ARS) at the Multidisciplinary Motor Centre of the University Antwerp (M2OCEAN). The research method includes:  scientific measurements of the movements of the marimba players who participate in the study in order to collect statistic data; a thematic analysis of the oral interviews with the same participants; an evaluation of the data and measurements by experts of different fields.

This research is performed in collaboration between:

Unravelling shoulder and/or neck pain in violinists and guitarists beyond muscles and joints?

Professional and pre-professional musicians are characterized by physical and psychological demands inherent to their musical activity, and are therefore at risk for developing performance-related pain. A more thorough insight in specific pain neuroscience and related cognitive and emotional aspects of pain might help clinicians in their assessment and treatment of performing artists with chronic musculoskeletal pain. In order to better understand the mechanisms behind shoulder and/or neck pain, a study was conducted in violinists and guitarists. These musicians play in an asymmetric position and are at high risk to suffer from shoulder and/or neck pain. More specifically, we assessed and compared the influence of physical and emotional stress tasks on pain thresholds in musicians with and without shoulder pain. While both mechanisms increase pain thresholds in healthy subjects, studies revealed difference in the pain modulation systems in patients with chronic pain.

During the physical testing procedure, pre-professional (i.e. students enrolled in a full-time Master degree in Music) and professional violinists/guitarists performed an isometric exercise of the shoulder external rotators (i.e. the physical task). The emotional stress task comprised watching “unpleasant” images selected from the International Affective Picture System. The primary outcome measure was the change in pressure pain threshold before and after the physical and emotional task.

Our results indicate similar effects of both tasks in either group i.e. musicians with and without shoulder pain (p>0,05).  All musicians showed elevated pressure pain thresholds at local and remote areas after isometric exercise (p<0,05). The emotional stress task increased pressure pain thresholds at remote areas only (p<0,05). 

We can conclude that musicians suffering from shoulder pain have normal reactions to physical activity and stress. Both tasks (the physical and emotional stress) adequately activated central and widespread pain inhibitory mechanisms. 


PhD student : Drs. Kevin Kuppens

Supervisors: Prof Nathalie RousselProf Filip Struyf, Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy

Prof Patrick Cras (UAntwerpen), Neurology

Prof Jo Nijs (VUB)

This research was performed in close collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire AP University College and deFilharmonie.

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