I have to start by saying that while I understand dancing takes strength, grace and skill (attributes I’ve never been accused of having) for me watching dance performances has always been a little perplexing and inaccessible. I think I’ve seen the Nutcracker a half-dozen times and I still have no idea what’s going on for a majority of the ballet. Maybe I’m missing that part of my brain that figures out body language. But these dances are different, because these are folks dancing about science. And these are just a few of the results from the most recent Dance for Your Ph.D. contest, an annual competition where graduate students try to explain the basic idea behind their research using choreography instead of PowerPoint.
The most recent winner is a dance about creating aluminum as a strong as steel. Others are about cell signaling during cancer or what happens to the knee implants inside the body for years. That’s the one below. And what’s clear is that it is not easy to use dance to explain research, but the research isn’t easy to understand in the first place.