Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dance your PhD

The results of the recent Dance your PhD are in. The point is to, well, dance your PhD. My favorite was A Molecular Dance in the Blood, Observed, for many reasons. I liked the dance, it was a good interpretation, and I figured out much of what was going on from the dance itself. The video notes clued me in on a few things, like that it was Old Man Winter freezing the system.

I also liked the music a lot. It's from Laurie Anderson's Born, Never Asked. That's a video someone made, choosing the song as an accompaniment. Anderson's song O, Superman made it to #2 on the UK charts in 1981, which if you watch it seems very unlikely.

Another performance I liked from this year's Dance your PhD was Miriam Sach's Cerebral activation patterns induced by inflection of regular and irregular verbs with positron emission tomography. The translation isn't as direct as the first, but I liked the dancing and the music. She seems like she's expressing an inwardness in a way I enjoy. Compare that to Clarissa Anderson's Environmental Controls of Phytoplankton Community Structure in the Santa Barbara Channel, CA: Application to the Dynamics and Detection of Harmful Diatom Blooms. She's a great dancer, and expressive and energetic but the feeling I get is more of a "look how good I am."

Is the former of these two styles modern dance and the latter jazz dance? I'm feeling clueless about the wider world of dance now.

Using dance to express science is not new. There's the well-known Protein synthesis: an epic on the cellular level. Skip to 3:10 unless you want to be really bored by the intro science part. Set your sensors for summer-of-love style trippiness! I, however, didn't learn about that movie until a couple of years ago.

The first dance interpretation of a science principle I saw was in the 1980s on a series called "Alive from Off Center." IMDB calls it "An avant-garde omnibus that features works by off-the-wall artists in many different disciplines." I enjoyed watching it as a teen-ager, which might say something about me. I think I saw on that show a choreography of dancers as electrons in a classic superconductor, with paired dancers being Cooper pairs. Or was that Nova? In any case, I liked that show and looking at the remarks now, Laurie Anderson hosted the show and made the short movie What You Mean We?.

Which means this afternoon I've been digging up more about her and her works, of which this blog is only a small part.

1 comment:

Izzy said...

Okay, three months late weighing in, but this is just cool.