AUBE Lab collaborates with world-famous dance company

Published: Apr 16, 2024 3:00 PM

By Jeremy Henderson

Thanks to Auburn Engineering, one of the best modern dance ensembles in the world might now be even better. 

On Monday, in advance of the Paul Taylor Dance Company's Tuesday night performance at the Gogue Performing Arts Center, students in the Auburn Biomechanical Engineering (AUBE) Lab mapped the movements of three of the company's dancers via motion capture technology.

Dancer Madelyn Ho doesn't know exactly how many biomarkers students applied to her for the experiment. She just knows she loves how it turned out. 

"It was a really cool experience," said Ho, who, in addition to her dance credentials, earned a Doctorate of Medicine from Harvard University in 2018. "I had done something similar quite a while ago for a research study looking at something very specific. But I love when art and science intersect, and I love that this is something that the university does. It was great to see people excited over how the dancing and movements translated to data points."

Directed by Michael Zabala, Auburn Alumni Engineering Council Endowed Associate Professor, the lab often mines the arts, athletics and even pop culture trends for scientific insight.

"Biomechanics is a great stage on which to spotlight engineering's relationship to the arts," Zabala said. "We've studied dance in the AUBE Lab before, but to be able to host three professional dancers from the Paul Taylor Dance Company in New York City was truly an honor."

For Ho, it could actually be a competitive advantage. 

"Turning is something that doesn't come naturally to me — it's something I've been working on," she said. "To see some of the different components I've been working on visualized and with color coding was very interesting.

"I told the graduate students that if anyone wanted some research topics, maybe they could actually give me notes on how to improve." 

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson,, 334-844-3591

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