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Dance is mathematics in motion.

Ballet is mathematics in motion. It's not just the counting, it's the calculus of carving out space with precision and passion.

Why am I all fired up about ballet? A friend of mine arranged a visitor pass for me, to a rehearsal at the San Francisco Ballet, and I just got back to my office. Wow! That was such an inspiring experience.

At one point, the choreographer told a dancer to "feel the shape". This really struck me, and I noticed that I could see the dancers defining the shape of space around them. Would I have picked up on that if I hadn't studied ballet for years, as a child? Maybe. Maybe not.

Very few children who study ballet ever become professionals. Does this mean that it's a waste of time for the children who don't "make it"? Not at all. That's not the point. By learning the fundamentals, they also learn discipline and hard work. If they have good teachers, they find their art. They add a new dimension to the shape of their lives.

Much the same can be said of science and mathematics. Not everybody can be a professional scientist, but it's still important for everybody to understand the fundamentals. By learning how to think critically, people learn how to evaluate what they're told. They learn to think for themselves. They learn how to control the shape of their lives.


It would be an interesting project to be able to develope an ipod siloutte in flash that dances according to the data in the flash 9 sound spectrum

I agree completely! I've been thinking about silhouettes all day...and tangential diagrams shaped by the movement of the dancer. Intead of having the dance be generated from sound data, I'd be interested in generating music from the movement. Less puppetry, more musicianship :-)

Filmmaker Maya Deren did a number of motion studies with dancers, as I recall. No doubt her work would be instrumental in a visual study of dancing forms and space, especially w/r/t silhouettes, animation, etc.

As to the fundamentals: it would do our culture a great deal of good to return respect to the "renaissance man" persona. Our educational system has strayed from providing a general educational background for students, which might be applicable to any or all fields of later work and study, to a training ground for future workers. We waste millions putting computers in classrooms while having little or no money for new textbooks. Why? Because Microsoft provides a grant for the computers (thus ensuring hordes of Microsoft-trained users and software purchasers) and taxpayers pay for the textbooks. Taxpayers want to pay less taxes, and further demand testing to demonstrate the results of their taxes. Testing demands require classes to study for the tests, which means the elimination of another class or two, often the lowest funded (or those deemed "low priority," like arts or music). I think we can see where this leads.

America has become a nation of specialists, from medicine to computer technology. The role of the generalist is found less often, and is less respected, than in the past. The classic model of the renaissance man, Leonardo Da Vinci, is regarded as a hero by some, but in today's America he would be accused of lacking focus. He'd be drugged to treat his perceived ADHD, and the Mona List smile would be the vague Prozac-induced whimsy grin of ennui.

Very good reading. Peace until next time.