Our Mission

The Yale Dance Lab promotes community, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and activism through dance at Yale and beyond. Fostering partnerships with schools and departments across the university, the Dance Lab emphasizes creative practice as a unique form of research. Even as the discipline, ritual, and repetition inherent in the practice of dance forms the Lab’s core knowledge, Dance Lab members expand and connect their work to some of the most powerful social and political ideas of our time.
Central to the Dance Lab’s activities is its spring semester project, which involves the licensing of seminal choreography and/or commissioning of new choreography. Additional events range from studio-based workshops and professional intensives to talks, screenings, class visits, and various other experiments, explorations, and collaborations launched throughout the year.

Our Team

Emily Coates
Faculty Director
Emily Coates is a dancer, choreographer, and writer who has performed internationally with New York City Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, Twyla Tharp Dance, and Yvonne Rainer and Group. Her choreographic work has been commissioned and presented by Danspace Project, Performa, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Works & Process at the Guggenheim, Ballet Memphis, Wadsworth Atheneum, University of Chicago, and Yale Art Gallery. She directs the dance studies concentration at Yale University, where she is associate professor in Theater and Performance Studies with a secondary appointment in the Directing department at Yale School of Drama. She is co-author, with particle physicist Sarah Demers, of the book Physics and Dance (Yale University Press 2019).
Lacina Coulibaly
Artistic Associate
Lacina was born in Burkina Faso. His professional dance career, deeply rooted in African traditional dances, later merged with European contemporary influences to create a uniquely African choreographic expression. In 1995, Lacina created the award-winning Cie Kongo Bâ Teria with Souleymane Badolo and Ousseni Sako, which toured extensively in Europe and the U.S. He has also danced with several international dance companies (Salia ni Seydou, Faso Danse Theatre, TchéTché, Urban Bush Women), and collaborated with such artists as Emily Coates, Kota Yamakazi, and Seydou Coulibaly, etc. He also served as Associate Choreographer to the project Engagement Feminin( a training program designed to encourage female dances in Africa), initiated by the August-Bienvenue Cie, and he is currently Artistic Director of Compagnie Artistique Hakili Sigi. As an experienced educator and teacher, Lacina has taught at numerous universities ( Brown University, Barnard College, New School, Sarah Lawrence, etc.) He is currently on faculty at Yale University.
Madelyn Blaney
Student Coordinator
Madelyn Blaney is a senior and an English major at Yale. She has been involved with Yale Dance Lab throughout her entire time as an undergraduate. As a dance student and performer, she is interested in the history and practice of dance, as well as the cultural and social implications of movement and performance. She is from Montclair, New Jersey.
Mariel Pettee
Student Coordinator
Mariel Pettee is a 6th-year PhD candidate in Physics at Yale University specializing in high-energy particle physics and the Higgs boson particle at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. As a choreographer, director, and performer, she also uses theater and dance work to research audience activation, duration, power, self-documentation, authenticity, fear, and playfulness. Since 2017, she has led a team of researchers working to develop machine learning techniques to generate novel choreography based on 3D motion capture of her own movements. She grew up in Dallas, TX.