Bruce Ferrington writes a popular blog about mathematics in Elementary Schools (http://authenticinquirymaths.blogspot.com.au). In July/August, he worked on a series of interviews with dancers & choreographers reflecting on how they use mathematics in their art and how it applies to their work. In August, he asked Ana & Joel Masacote to answer 10 questions about how mathematics relates to their passion – dance.
Other participants were Tommy Franzen, from “So You Think You Can Dance (UK), Alonzo King, from LINES ballet, Corey Herbert and Drew Hedditch, corps de ballet from the Australian Ballet, Elena Grinenko world champion Latin American Rhythm and Dancing with the Stars, Michael Apuzzo , dancer with Ben Wright, and Linda Gamblin, from the Sydney Dance Company.
Questions and answers from Joel:
Describe what math lessons were like for you at school.
Math was one of the subjects that I enjoyed! Algebra, Geometry and Music were the only math classes I took in high school.
- When you left school, did you expect to be using any of the math that you were taught ever again?
I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with Algebra & Geometry, but the math in Music becomes an intuitive feeling of math, and it has always been my life.
- Do you divide dances or movements into parts or sections that might be expressed as mathematical fractions?
I think of dance and movement in the same light as Music, so putting them into parts and sections are a typical part of the creation. However, I don’t think I’ve ever divided them to be seen as fractions. Interesting viewpoint to explore! 😉
- How aware are you of angles in dancing technique – angle of body, angle of arms and legs, angle of movements?
This is where my geometry lessons came into play. I trained in J.R.O.T.C (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp) in high school for 4 years. I loved formations because I saw the angles of body & angles of movements as geometry. Our steps always had to be synchronized, so my music (time & rhythm) was a huge part of this process as well. Geometry made me fall in love with billiards! I played for the billiards team while I was in college at Howard University for 2 years. So, I see dance mainly in the angles I get out of the geometry.
- When dancers are moving in a performance, how much is “mathematical thinking and calculating where the space is” and how much is “feel for the space”?
I like to feel the space the body is in. My last year in J.R.O.T.C I became the company commander for the silent drill team and this really started to push my awareness of space and bodies in space. It expanded my love for geometry even more. After high school I did four years in the Army and another four years in the Marine Corps, so my spacial awareness to bodies of people flanking, filing and angling in synchronized motion became a huge part of my life. I loved calling cadence (even though I don’t remember much any more)! The entire interaction with leading a platoon was musical for me and the interaction with the platoon singing cadence was always an amazing and intense experience!
- Is estimation good enough or do you rely on accurate measurement of distances and times?
With twelve years of military experience in marching and leading formations, and thirty years of musical experience maintaining consistency of time, rhythm and shape of sound, accurate measurement of distance, duration and time is a huge part of the process in creation for me.
- How aware are you of timing and beat in dance?
This is one of my favorite topics. Time is everything and at the same time it’s nothing. It’s a representation of yin and yang… Tension and relaxation. Duality. Time is the primitive place where sound and motion is created, and they happen simultaneously in that moment in time. So, Music and Dance are one in the same. It all starts from intention. The intention to create. The intention to expand. The intention to express. Maintaining the consistency of time… i.e. pulse, rhythm and vibration, we begin to see that the past and the future are only concepts. They aren’t real. Allowing the mind, body and soul to focus on the maintaining of time, treating every moment in time as if it’s the only time, we then witness the past, present and future happening all in the present moment. The past is happening in your reflection of it, and the future is happening in your desire for it, but they are all happening in the present. Music, Dance, Martial Arts or any creative process for that matter allows the mind to practice focusing on the moment in time. The more you evolve with your craft, constantly fine tuning it to please your soul, the stronger you become aware of this illusion.
- Have you ever used math and physics to explain your technique, movement or choreography?
All the time.
- Do you look at statistics much to analyze your art?
No. For me, statistics do not define art. Embracing life experiences and channelling it into a pure self expression is how I analyze my work.
- Do you have any other insights to offer into how you use mathematics in dance?
We as a human race are becoming more aware of ourselves. This is only the beginning. The boundaries and pigeon holds the system has on us from seeing the different illusions, are falling. We are beginning to express ourselves on a whole other dimension. Slowly being introduced to the 4th. The universe is expanding, and the vibrational frequency of the universe is speeding up our perception of time. Earth is going through a frequency shift, and this shift is shaking things up. It’s allowing humanity to see the through self. So, my strongest advice is to allow yourself to express wholeheartedly without any boundaries or perception blocks of understanding self! We are one! This understanding is from my exploration into Sacred Geometry, the mathematics of all sound and frequency. Everything in existence has it’s own frequency, which is also defined by math and is measured in hertz. Love is the highest frequency, and living completely in love with self, we heal our planet. So, Love thyself!