Stage Set for Houston Ballet, UH to Pair for New Class

Dancers To Aid in Development of Movement Arts Online Course

The UH department of health and human performance and the Houston Ballet are joining together to develop a Movement Arts course for those students pursuing a master's degree in physical education.

"This course will examine motor skills, training, nutrition and injury rehabilitation of world-class athletes," Charles Layne, professor and chair of the department, said. "We will have trainers, nutritionists and dancers illustrating their on- and off-season and performance regimens and techniques."

Dancers will help UH professors develop the class. This is the first time the department has partnered with a non-research entity for the purposes of instruction.

"Houston Ballet is pleased to be partnering with UH to develop a specialized movement class that will provide a unique learning experience for students," said Jim Nelson, director of the Houston Ballet. "Houston Ballet has always been at the forefront of professional ballet companies in the health and well being of our dancers. This provides us with the opportunity to expand human performance learning. We take great pride in this partnership."

The Movement Arts course will be a new component in the department's arsenal of online courses, and is intended for students pursuing the strength and conditioning track of the program. The three-credit class will be offered as an elective beginning in summer 2010.

"We envision similar agreements with professional ice skaters, gymnasts, martial arts experts and competitive divers," Layne said.

The department is concerned with locomotion strategies and research that can be applied to various populations with movement challenges, including astronauts on extended missions in space, the elderly and those with spinal cord injuries. To that end, Layne is hopeful the dancers also will assist in demonstrating balance techniques in conjunction with ongoing research at the department's Center for Neuromotor and Biomechanics Research in the Texas Medical Center.

"Human performance means more than walking on a treadmill or weight lifting," Layne said. "It encompasses things like playing baseball, singing or dancing, and Houston has world-class talent who also can become resources for research to help others with movement challenges."

For more information on the UH Department of health and human performance, visit

For more information on the Houston Ballet, visit