The Physics of Ballet
with Dr. Ralf Widenhorn, professor of physics at Portland State University, and Gavin Larsen, faculty member for the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre
Ballet dancers’ grace and beauty of movement is awe inspiring. They seem to float across the stage as if gravity doesn’t exist for them, but the laws of physics govern ballet dancers’ movements just as much as they determine how the rest of us move throughout our day. Dancers have learned how to use physics concepts such as force, impulse, inertia, and conservation of angular momentum to harness the energy created by their bodies and channel it into artful jumps and turns that wow audiences.
But how do these concepts work? How do the countless hours of practice help dancers use physics to their advantage? How do these forces differ in their effect on regular audience members? At this Science Pub we will have live performances by dancers from Oregon Ballet Theatre, help from physicists from PSU, and audience participation, all of which will help define and demonstrate how the laws of physics can be used to create the art of dance.
Ralf Widenhorn, PhD,
is a researcher and professor of physics at Portland State University. His research interests include semiconductor physics and digital sensors as well as physics education and biomedical applications of physics. The scientific look at ballet will be presented by physics students from Portland State University: Lester Lampert, Justin Dunlap, Elizabeth Anderson, and Elliot Mylott. All presenters are in the leadership team of the Science Outreach Society
(S.O.S.), a non-profit organization run by volunteers, PSU students, and faculty to bring science education to Portland communities and people of all ages.Gavin Larsen
is a faculty member for the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre. Over the course of her 18-year career as a professional dancer, she performed with Oregon Ballet Theatre, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Alberta Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, and appeared as a guest artist with Ballet Victoria. She retired from full-time performing in 2010 to focus on teaching, coaching, and writing about dance. Her articles and essays have been published in Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, Dance Spirit, and the Threepenny Review.
Science Pub Hillsboro is a monthly event open to anyone aged 21+ (or minor with adult). No RSVP or scientific background required. Just bring your curiosity, sense of humor, and appetite for food, drinks, and knowledge!
$5.00 suggested cover charge. Tell your friends. We hope to see you there!
Questions? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.