If you ask any PhD student what his thesis is about, one of two things is likely to happen:
1. You get a long, drawn out paragraph of mumbo jumbo things that no one in the outside world will ever understand…
2. “It’s about electrons.”
That is to say, you get the watered-down, one word version and a subtle invitation to please stop asking questions because you wouldn’t understand it anyway. But what if there was a way to communicate complex ideas, the stuff of PhD’s, without watering it down or shutting the rest of us out?
Apparently there is…
What was once a little known video contest for PhD students to explain their research through dance has blown up into a full-scale online dance film fest. Scientist/writer John Bohannon developed the Dance Your PhD contest as a way to make science accessible and understandable to everyone.
Plus, he sees this model as a way to attack some of the problems we face in the dance community. Bohannon gave this TED talk a few years ago, where he claims that dancers are a valuable and fragile resource. Using dancers as a learning tool and a means of communicating lofty, inaccessible ideas could be one way to protect the fields of both dance AND science.
Lauren Warnecke is a freelance writer and editor, focused on dance and cultural criticism in Chicago and across the Midwest. Lauren is the dance critic for the Chicago Tribune, editor of See Chicago Dance, and founder/editor of Art Intercepts, with bylines in Chicago Magazine, Milwaukee Magazine, St. Louis Magazine and Dance Media publications, among others. Holding degrees in dance and kinesiology, Lauren is an instructor of dance and exercise science at Loyola University Chicago. Read Lauren’s posts.