Dancing Around the News

Martha Graham said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.” Charles Baudelaire wrote, “The dance can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music, and it has the additional merit of being human and palpable. Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.” 
But what’s going on upstairs while these ineffable expressions are being conveyed? Ati Metwaly, writing for Ahram Online, explores what goes on in a dancer’s mind. Sahar Helmy, a dancer with the Cairo Opera Ballet Company, remarked, “When I enter the stage, my concentration is at its peak. I feel everything, I feel the audience, other dancers. I also listen to the music, think about the technical issues, about the movement. At times, with so many thoughts crossing my mind, I experience fear.”
Mamdouh Hassan, a fellow dancer, notes that when the lights come up, it “all takes off, and once the story begins, I no longer think about the peripheral factors, the movement takes me through the whole ballet, it becomes a part of me.”
That movement happens on pointe shoes. For a ballet dancer, they’re integral to the performance. This video from The Atlantic focuses on ballerinas and their shoes, featuring recently retired Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer Kaori Nakamura:

Shifting from the cerebral and the physical to the atomic level, Adam Frank, writing for NPR, asks “Can dancing teach quantum physics?” after watching a performance of Ryoji Ikeda’s newest composition, Superposition. A discussion after the show explored physics, dance, and how art can inform science. “I wasn’t trying to explain quantum physics to anyone. I’m a composer,” Ikeda remarked. In quantum physics, Frank explains, a superposition is “when two possible states of a system overlap or occur at the same time.” Frank continues, “An atom can be simultaneously in two places or an electron ca be spinning simultaneously in one direction and its opposite.”

The Ikeda piece played relentlessly on this idea.  Frank concludes, “Ikeda’s work demonstrated the meaning of true excellence in the collaboration of art and science. A painting using a computer algorithm may not mean much. A dance based directly on an idea in mathematics may not reveal much. But when artistic explorations in the terrains of science truly work, they do much more than just interpret a map of a scientific idea. Instead the unique power of artistic expression reveals wholly new human landscapes within that terrain.” 

A brief clip of a performance: