Whole-body angular momentum in a complex dance sequence: Differences across skill levels

Michael Chang, Nicholas O'Dwyer, Roger Adams, Stephen Cobley, Kwee Yum Lee, Mark Halaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Due to the redundant degrees of freedom (DOF) and nonlinearity of reactional kinetic elements within the human motor apparatus, controlling the complex dynamics of the human musculoskeletal system presents considerable difficulties. Based on this challenge, Bernstein (1967) viewed skill development as the process whereby the central nervous system (CNS) gains mastery of kinematic DOF and kinetic reactional elements (passive forces, moments etc.), with the highest level of skill characterised by optimal exploitation of reactional elements in the achievement of movement goals. A previous kinematic investigation into coordination differences in a complex multidirectional dance sequence demonstrated that general unfreezing of kinematic DOF occurred as dance skill progressed (Chang et al., submitted for publication). To gain insight into the role of angular reactional elements in skill, the present kinetic study investigated angular momentum and associated variables across three skill levels (beginners, intermediates, experts) within this same complex dance sequence. The results showed that the angular momenta of segments and accompanying angular reactional elements generally increased with skill level. More specifically, the findings suggested that while improvements in movement economy from cancellation of angular momentum between body segments occur early in skill progression, later in skill progression, experts utilise increased whole-body angular momentum. Although this is energetically expensive, it may enhance the aesthetic value of dance movements, and/or have mechanical advantages. Overall, the findings here provide support for Bernstein's (1967) model of skill development. Future research should quantify the relations between energy expenditure, key biomechanical variables that reflect skill and dance aesthetics as perceived by audiences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102512
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Movement Science
Early online date04 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


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