Something Borrowed, Something New : A Cognitive and Experiential Exploration of the Creative Process

Date of Award


Document Type

MSU-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


College of the Arts


Theatre and Dance

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Elizabeth McPherson

Committee Member

Jessica DiMauro Marks

Committee Member

Julia Burrer


In my creative research culminating in my MFA final thesis, I examine the neuroscience of creativity through the lens of the body and the medium of dance. To better understand this intersection of science and art, and the relationship between the brain and the body, this research serves to inform my choreographic practice, providing a deeper understanding that will ultimately also influence my teaching practice.

Something Borrowed, Something New is a choreographic project that approaches the creative process through three distinct cognitive operations which underlie innovative thinking, all of which involve taking the experiential and informational raw materials around us and applying these principles to create new outcomes. The performance combines classical ballet with contemporary dance techniques as these two forms have been the most influential in the development of my artistic practice. Part I examines the abstraction of ballet, where two existing classical ballet female solo variations are modified and twisted to create something new. Using contemporary dance techniques, Part II explores fragmentation, where sequences and motifs are taken apart, expanded on, and rearranged. Part III employs convergent thinking, where two or more sources, ideas, and dance forms are merged. The written thesis details the steps along the choreographic process and provides contextual and analytical support to the final performance. Lastly, I discuss how this research will contribute and lead to future choreographic endeavors.


The performance video is restricted to the Montclair State University community but the PDF file of the thesis, which is located at the bottom of the screen, is available to anyone interested in reading it.

File Format


Lo, Joyce_Redacted.pdf (502 kB)
PDF file of written thesis

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