I realize my post title is not longer true once you rearrange the equation, but you get my point. Science really can be fun and easy when you add an unexpected twist like dance or other forms of art. That’s sort of the idea behind the “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest organized by Gonzo Labs. Having just finished a dissertation and being a dancer, I really wanted to enter this competition, so I gathered up as many people as I could and made it happen.
One important theme of the dance work that I am involved in is the idea that anyone can dance at any age and even that limited physical ability shouldn’t limit you from expressing yourself through movement. Given that idea, I didn’t restrict my cast to only dancers. I ended up with a cast and crew of about 30 men and women ranging from 5 to 80+ years old, some dancers and some not. The key to success in this situation is that I chose a dance form that anyone can learn quickly, in this case, it was improvisational modern dance. Simple, repeated movements through space performed en mass are sometimes quite mesmerizing and anyone can do it and look good.
The group also had varying experience with science concepts. A handful in the crowd have PhDs in a scientific field, some of them work with scientists, some are artists or accountants or philanthropists, and some are kindergarteners. However, with the exception of me, no one understood my dissertation chapter nearly as well as I did, so everyone needed a science lesson.
Learning how to do the improvisation and the rules behind the movements didn’t take long – maybe 20 minutes. And all together, the whole filming took less than 3 hours. The preparation on my part was significantly more than that, but that’s the case with any dance performance.
In the end, I think everyone learned quite a bit both about art and science. And it was fun! It was amazing to work with such a diverse group of people on this kind of project. I am in complete awe of their patience with the process, their willingness to give their time, and of their open hearts in general. I’d like to do this again some time, but we’ll need to come up with a new science concept to dance.
Here is my entry for the competition (I already know about the typos):
Click here for my research YouTube channel.