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Connection Doesn’t Work the Way You Think It Works

Rebecca Brightly:

Traditionally, the lead is in charge of the entire structure of the dance. The lead must give the follow clear instructions. Traditionally, the follow has limited choices, and all choices must mesh with the lead’s instructions.

First, the traditional definition is literally inaccurate. Of course you can dance that way. But the best dancers do not. The best dance partnerships work as a team, both people contributing creative ideas on the fly, each responding to the other’s movements, adapting the direction of the dance based on their partner’s input.

This is a must-read article on the subject of connection in dance. One of the biggest breakthroughs in my own dancing came when I realized that the lead can initiate a movement that the follow then completes. How a follow chooses to move in response to the lead is where much of their creativity is expressed. This movement then influences how the lead subsequently moves, and the cycle continues.

lindy hop connection yin yang

The best dances I have occur when ideas flow back-and-forth seamlessly. The distinction between leading and following disappears, and the dance becomes about two people together weaving something beautiful out of the music and movement they share. Yin & Yang. Lead & Follow.

I Charleston the World

The idea is simple–"make videos of you doing Charleston in front of famous places around the world... and share." So far over two-dozen videos have been submitted. This one from Berlin is my favourite. Excellent dancing and production values. 

UPDATE This video from Nashville, released today, gives the Berlin one a run for its money. Great song choice.

The Myth of the Well-Rounded Scientist

Adam Ruben writes about the attitude in academia that a moment not spent in the lab is a moment wasted.

My outside interest during grad school—my “Batman job,” as a grad student from Case Western Reserve University called it last month—was stand-up comedy. (I quickly learned that audiences in downtown Baltimore aren’t fans of math puns. Like this one: “I was curious about the alcohol content of my mouthwash, but the label on the bottle didn’t say anything about it. I guess the proof was beyond the text of this Scope!” And that’s why I’m not famous.)

One day, my adviser called me into his office. The campus newspaper had just published a little profile of the stand-up-comedy-performing grad student, and my adviser happened to read it. Over the next 10 minutes, I learned that my hobby was an embarrassment to the department, that there was no way I could properly focus on biology, and that every negative lab result I ever produced was a direct result of telling jokes at night.

My "Batman job" is swing dancing. Many of the best things in my life are a direct result of my being involved in a dance community. I met my wife through dance, I have become a better teacher, and my communications skills have dramatically improved. I remember keeping my physics life and dance life separate at the beginning of grad school after being warned by some well-intentioned individuals that such "poppycock" hobbies would hurt my academic career. Then I realized that dance is a big part of who I am, and I did not want to work at a job where I could not be myself. If my hobbies and passions keep me from getting an academic position, then it isn't a place I want to work. Now my physics and dance lives bleed into one another, and this has led to a number of interesting opportunities for me. My "Batman job" has made me a better physicist.

I would wager there are far more scientists with "Batman jobs" than those without.

Five moments that changed modern Lindy Hop

Jerry Almonte wrote a great post about some of the pivotal moments that have shaped Lindy Hop. I have been dancing long enough to have been around for all but one of these moments.

My favourite is Todd and Naomi's spotlight in the ULHS 2005 Liberation final. At the time I had never seen footwork executed this fast and crisp. Frida Segerdahl, sitting right behind where Todd and Naomi are dancing, starts fist pumping with excitement during their second spotlight when they do the tandem variations.

The Quantum Dance

My TEDxWaterloo talk is out! With the help of a magician, a live band, and nearly 500 dancers from around the world, I explain how quantum entanglement can be used to build super fast computers. For more information on how the talk was put together check out the Project Q website.

Each part of the dance represents a different aspect of quantum computing. In the coming days I plan on writing a longer blog post that breaks down the routine and explains what is happening. Stay tuned.

Project Q passes 300 participants

With a flurry of videos being submitted last night and today there are now 316 people who have taken part in Project Q! This is far beyond what I had hoped for. Thank you Lindy Hoppers for being so awesome.

Latest round of Project Q Submissions

We are up to 206 Lindy Hoppers who have taken part in Project Q! There have been a number of new cities who have submitted videos, and I know of a number of others who are either filming or working on their videos as the deadline approaches. I spent the past weekend working with the dancers, band, and other guests who will take part in the talk. It is going to be amazing. I cannot wait to show everyone the final product.

Project Q videos rolling in!

This past week there has been a flurry of activity with scenes around the world submitting their Project Q videos. So far 90 dancers from six cities have submitted videos! I know there are several more cities shooting their videos this weekend. I'll update the blog (and Project Q page) once the new submissions are online.

Here are some of the videos that have come in so far:

While I was in Vancouver last week I also filmed the local scene there performing the routine. I haven't had a chance to post it online, but will do so later on this weekend.

A big thanks to everyone who has helped out so far. I really appreciate it.

TEDxUW behind the scenes

The IQC has made a short behind the scenes video about my TEDxUW talk. The video contains a hint about some of the things I am planning in my upcoming TEDxWaterloo talk.

Lindy Hoppers: Science needs YOU!

This coming March I am going to be explaining some the intricacies of Quantum Mechanics using Lindy Hop. To pull this off, I need your help.

The goal is to get as many scenes as possible to film themselves performing the routine. The footage will then be spliced together and be incorporated into a larger performance.

Toy Story 3 copies well known Lindy Hoppers

Rik Panganiban pointed out last year that the dance scene between Woody and Jessie borrows heavily from a solo spotlight by Todd Yannacone and Frida Segredahl in the Liberation finals at the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown 2006.

I decided to take the two videos and place them side-by-side to show how closely they match up. This is about the closest you can come to a cameo in a Pixar movie. It's only Tuesday, but this gets my vote for Awesome Thing of the Week.