Physics and Math in Dance


Physics Physics "Physics and Math." These words strike terror into the hearts of many people, but for those whose work or hobbies deal with such concepts, those two words are nothing more than a precise and succinct way of describing how the physical universe works. Dancer Guy has been interested in physics and math pretty much all his life, is familiar with many of their concepts, and sees how they are inextricably linked to dance.

Dancing is simply applied physics and math, presented in an aesthetically pleasing manner. For those people familiar with science, engineering, physics, mathematics, and related fields, their inherent concepts and language can easily describe the concepts of dance. Many are the times that Dave was instructing dance to an engineer, scientist, mathematician, or physicist, and the student was struggling with a particular move because he didn't understand its underlying concepts. So Dave simply stated a mathematical formula or physics concept, and the student lit up: "Oh, okay. Got it."

Some of the math/physics concepts that apply to every dance style in the world are: velocity, acceleration, kinetic energy, angular momentum, leverage, mass, mechanical advantage, vector addition, F=ma, Newtonian Laws of Motion, d=1/2at2, blending functions, forces, the Cartesian coordinate system, trigonometry, and so forth. Of course, you don't need to know these concepts in order to learn to dance, but if you do, you'll understand why things work the way they do, and will be able to predict how changes in the system will affect the outcome. That is, you'll be able to understand that certain conditions result in a certain outcome, and therefore you will intuitively know how to fix problems, and to extrapolate from the simple to the more complex.

Of course, there are many branches of science, and it seems that an awful lot of them relate to dance in surprising or unexpected ways. One of the more obvious areas is the medical field. Dave has taught dance to doctors, nurses, psychologists, x-ray techs, and so forth, and for these people, Dave often uses illustrative examples from anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, cognitive functions, auditory figure ground, ECG patterns, etc., when teaching dance.

Since Fort Collins is a university town, and the northern Colorado area is home to many high-tech companies and medical facilities, Dave gets many dance students who are highly technical. When teaching such people, Dave will include in his instruction of dance moves some highly technical concepts and jargon where appropriate.

Techie people can get down and boogie, too. . .   :-)



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