John Bohannon's TED Talk "Dance vs. PowerPoint, a Modest Proposal" left me with many questions but one in particular - what if the smartest minds met the smartest bodies?
In his talk, Bohannon uses dancers from the Black Label Movement dance troupe to explain how lasers work. The carefully timed talk features dancers who use interpretive movements to demonstrate complex concepts.
"If you focus them into a beam... you can perform surgery into an eye," he says, as the dancers move in sync across the stage in a line. "The atoms themselves are quite violent," he says, as one dancer moves sporadically. The dancers poke fingers at the violent mover, representing how lasers can slow down the speed of an atom. "Until eventually, it approaches absolute zero," he says as the dancer freezes. "Then it becomes a super-fluid..." he says, as the dancers begin rippling motions through their limbs. "If you shine light through a super-fluid, it slows photons down," he says, as a new dancer sprints across the stage and is caught mid-leap by the super-fluid movers.
Bohannon goes on to advocate for scientists working with dancers to illustrate concepts like these, particularly in a time when the arts are under-supported and under-utilized.
Check out: Dance your PhD
Dancers are often stereotyped as not being smart. When I tell people I majored in dance, I sometimes get the typical responses, "Your parents let you do that?" and "Oh, that must've been an easy A." People don't understand the strength of character and mind that it takes to pursue and be successful in dance. You have to understand your body at a deeply intuitive level. You experiment with what your body can handle and can't. In a way, dancers are body scientists.
When I watch this, I wonder why dance is not used more to help explain difficult concepts. Humans connect to watching movement. Dance has been used to tell stories for millennia. What Bohannon has started here is an opportunity to both make complex concepts more accessible and also to change hearts and minds about how to use dancers.
What do you think about this talk?
Is it art?
What if the smartest minds met the smartest bodies?
How else might we use this idea?