Dance of the Scientists

Now this is something that tickled my inner geek (not that my outer geek is any less geeky): a dance competition for scientists called Dance Your Ph.D. contest.

Organized by Ph.D. studnet Nilay Yapici at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, the contest was all about how to showcase students' thesis ... in form of interpretive dance:

No one was surprised when he scooped the prize. For one thing, Stewart wore nothing but a shimmering, translucent loin cloth. (That's worth a few bonus points in my book.) But the judges told me afterward that his dance stood out because it accomplished two things at once. Most importantly, "he connected with the audience," said Pastorini. "That is the purpose of dance: to create emotions." A big help was his choice of music—a jazz interpretation of African Pygmy tribal music by Herbie Hancock—which created an atmosphere of funky ancientness.

But like all the dancers, Stewart had a second job: to somehow convey his Ph.D. thesis. Before the show, each dancer had about 60 seconds to describe their research to the judges. So this was more than just a dance contest. Folded in was the ability to summarize your work succinctly. In Stewart's case, that work is titled "Refitting repasts: a spatial exploration of food processing, sharing, cooking, and disposal at the Dunefield Midden campsite, South Africa." His highly stylized chase of an antelope—played by fellow University of Oxford archaeologist Giulia Saltini-Semerari—followed by processing and sharing of the goods, was elegant. "What I most looked for was that scientific ideas came across," said Gschmeidler. "He did this perfectly."

Link (with videos) - Thanks Richard!


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