Two Ursinus students are among the many electing to double major and have combined Dance with Mathematics and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. They are exploring these seemingly very different majors and have discovered creative parallels in each discipline. Katie Greco 2012 is a Biochemistry & Molecular Biology major working toward admission to medical school.
Greco grew up trying to emulate the ballet she learned from a small group of teachers. “It wasn’t really until I came to Ursinus that I learned about other types of dance and appreciated the relationship between dance and history,” she says. “I’ve come to respect dancers and choreographers who make a statement with their work. We have opportunities to work with lots of guest artists here, so I try to take something new away from each choreographer.”Dance as a field, much like many arts and arts institutions, is heading to a future where its applicability to other aspects of the world will be much needed, says Peter DiMuro, who is a visiting dance artist this year. DiMuro was the artistic director of the internationally renowned Liz Lerman Dance Exchange.
“Katie Greco and Annabel Clarance are great examples of this future,” DiMuro says. “They both are able to move in space beautifully. Each has just finished a week’s residency with Guest Artist Coleen Thomas, in to re-set a work first created on her New York-based company.”
So how do Grecco’s two majors connect?
“I really believe that both science and dance are forms of art,” says Greco. “Students of each need a sound foundation with the fundamentals before moving onto creative endeavors. Just as there is scientific research, there is also movement research; in dance, it’s called improvisation. Usually there is more of a structure to scientific research, and usually dance is more creative, but I’ve found that this distinction isn’t always true.”
“I came to Ursinus so that I could combine these two majors,” says Greco. “I have been dancing since I was very young, but I had been interested in science since middle school. During my college search, I realized that Ursinus was probably the only school where I would be able to pursue this combined major and I couldn’t pass up such a unique opportunity.”
Rebecca Roberts says Greco displays passion for both Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Dance. “She has successfully pursued opportunities presented to her such as independent research and participation in the dance shows on campus,” says Roberts, Associate Professor of Biology. “I’ve enjoyed conversations we’ve had that bridge her two disciplines, such as how fun it would be to choreograph a science-based dance performance on the spiral staircase in the Kaleidoscope, which looks remarkably like a protein alpha-helix.”
Math and Dance
Annabel Clarance 2012 has always been interested in geometry and its many different applications. “I also have a huge appreciation for patterns, sequences and series. I have especially enjoyed learning about fractals as they are a main portion of my honors research,” she says. And there are many connections between the math and dance fields, says Clarance, who is from Wallingford Connecticut. “There is a history of dancing out geometrical shapes and theories and there’s a large amount of math underlying the most recent technological developments in the world of modern dance.”
Mohammed Yahdi, Associate Professor of Mathematics agrees.
“Many dances literally embody mathematical ideas,” says Yahdi. “Annabel is linking mathematics and dance in a truly innovative way by focusing on creativity, a common critical component. She is using mathematical tools to decipher the core choreographic movements. She is developing innovative methods. The ultimate goal is to create new material and choreography unexplored by the human mind.”
Clarance hopes to continue her research on computerizing the choreographic process in graduate school. This November she will present that topic at the national annual conference of Congress of Research in Dance (CORD).
– Kate Campbell