Dance As A Universal Language1
Dance has been a part of our world for a long time, perhaps the longest. Before the development of linguistic skills, people communicated through body language. Love, anger, hope, joy, and sadness were all expressed through movement. This could be seen as the beginning of this beautiful art form.
While you may not understand every other person’s language, culture, or tradition right away, dance as an art form brings people from all over the world together because it is a language that transcends all boundaries.
Even though there are many different forms of dance found in different cultures, dance is considered a universal language because it helps to bring people together and emphasize the similarities between them.
Dance is a natural essence that is inside of us. It could be narrative or emotional; it could be a religious manifestation of faith, a ceremonial custom, or simply a celebration of life.
The Connection Between Dance and Math2
Math may seem like a bunch of complex formulas and concepts to some, but the similarities and connections between art and math are aplenty.
Different styles of dance make use of math in different ways. Ballet dancers, for example, observe the angle of the body, arms, and legs in positions such as holding the leg at a 90-degree angle or dividing the stage into quarters and positioning the dancers for unison.
Similarly, Latin dances express rhythm as fractions. Through dance, people create shapes, angles, patterns, and combinations similar to those engendered in math.3
According to the paper “Dance and mathematics: Engaging senses in learning” by Katarzyna Wasilewska, math is present in dance, and math concepts are easier to understand when they are experienced. Her paper shows the explicit connection between how dance can be used to teach the fundamentals of math and how math concepts can be used consciously to create dance.4
The connection does not limit itself to superficial links such as noticing shapes or counting steps, but has much deeper connections such as using mathematics to solve choreography problems, or mathematical concepts that arise naturally in dance, how math inspires dance, and so on.
Many dance choreographies can be described using mathematical concepts as they often display pattern symmetry, such as reflection, translation, rotation, and following rhythms, patterns, and shapes. Any dance choreography can be appealing only when it is in synchronized motion and follows the rhythm of the beat. Therefore, children can use their mathematical skills and knowledge to create dance choreography.
How Math Can Help Children Improve Their Dancing Skills5
The application of math in our daily lives is quite diverse and can be found in technology, culture, painting, music, architecture, and dance.
Many mathematical ideas pervade dance and are intrinsic to it. While you may not think certain things in music, like dividing music into counts or using counts to mark movement points, are deeply mathematical, many dancers and musicians recognize the importance of mathematics in rhythm and its complex patterns. Various dance traditions incorporate math concepts in their own distinct ways.
Throughout many dance forms, dancers often have to stay parallel to other dancers to preserve formations. Keeping the right distance between each other no matter how they move is essential, and understanding lines and linear movement will help children a great deal. For example, classical dance forms such as Western ballet and Bharatanatyam use a strong sense of lines.
Almost everything in dancing has to do with patterns. Children need to memorize patterns in their dance steps and moves. The rhythm in music usually consists of patterns in the form of beats. This pattern is synchronized with their movements when they dance.
Symmetry is another very important aspect of dance, as is pattern, which has both local and global forms. For example, certain dance forms use specific symmetry on a regular basis, such as in the Flamingo duet, in which two dancers circle each other with 180-degree rotational symmetry, creating a dynamic of intimate opposites.
Dances also use other kinds of symmetry in three dimensions in practice, like helical symmetry and central inversions. Apart from this, there are also symmetries in time and space, such as unison, canon, inversion, retrograde, and so on.
Geometry is essential in teaching children the positioning of their bodies in relation to themselves and their surroundings. It is important for them to understand shapes and angles in order to focus on the angle that they need to make with their bodies to form the right shape.
Then there are also references to show the presence of explicit mathematics in modern dance, especially in the works of Rudolf Laban. For example, Laban describes types, directions, and qualities of movement within the kinesphere, which is a sphere with a radius that is the arm or leg centered on the navel, using regular polyhedra.
Another example of how math plays an important role in dance is figure skating. Angles of the skaters are crucial in ice skating when they jump, glide, spin, skid, and land. The more accurate the angles they use in each stage, the higher the score will be. Therefore, understanding mathematical concepts can help children in excel at dance.2
Though you may not view dance through the lens of math or vice versa, dance has a strong mathematical element that we can use to our advantage.
Having a good math foundation can help you perform better in dance, as well as boost motivation and inspire originality in choreography. It’s vital to recognize the role of mathematics in dance because it helps children understand the real-world applications of math learning in a creative context.
Visit BYJU’S FUTURESCHOOL blog for more ideas on how to combine math learning with other subjects and skills.
- Dance as Universal Language | The Gazelle. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.thegazelle.org/issue/16/opinion/dance
- Dancing: Revealing the Beauty of Mathematics – SEAMEO Regional Centre for QITEP in Mathematics. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.qitepinmath.org/en/math-articles/dancing-revealing-the-beauty-of-mathematics/
- Mathematics in Dance |. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://danceteachingideas.com/mathematics-in-dance/
- Wasilewska, K. (n.d.). Mathematics in the World of Dance.
- Dancing Mathematics And The Mathematics Of Dance Math Horizons February 2011. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2022, from http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/publication/?i=60727&article_id=635230&view=articleBrowser&ver=html5