Johnston collaborates with FSU Psychology Professor while researching BORDERLINE

Ericsson and Johnston in dialogue

With a focus on examining the neurological capacity for creativity Johnston engaged Dr. K. Anders Ericcson, a Conradi Eminent Scholar and Professor of Psychology at FSU in multiple dialogue sessions during her residency. Johnston and her collaborators initiated a conversation with Ericcson focused on developing expertise and the challenge of applying the existing research to a creative field. Ericcson was invited to attend a rehearsal as well as Johnston's Informal Showing to provide insight and feedback about Johnston's residency process. During the feedback sessions Ericcson highlighted the necessity of deliberate practice, independent assessment, and feedback from someone with greater expertise in the area. He also talked about the importance of working with a variety of tools and putting them together in a new way while journeying toward the acquisition of excellence.

Utilizing Ericcson’s expertise in developing outstanding performance, Johnston enacted several of his suggestions. Johnston experimented with different ways of working with her collaborators. One process Johnston employed was to segment the residency into three components - class, coaching/conditioning and creating. Class time allowed for the refinement of technique, to look at movement patterns and habits and to build up the energy of the body. Individual coaching and conditioning sessions provided feedback for areas of growth - specifically targeting alignment or pain amelioration. Creating sessions were held in the Black Box studio - a space away from class and conditioning, conducive to the expression, rather than the acquisition of skills. Individual and group assessments were regularly used to check-in with the state of the dancers. In addition to experimenting with the restructuring of her group process Johnston examined her own choreographic approach by utilizing new choreographic exercises and consciously organizing her time to include specific spaces for creating new material.