The physics of the "hardest move" in ballet - Arleen Sugano
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The investigation of how physics impacts ballet has been the primary focus for Dr. Kenneth Laws, Professor Emeritus, Dickinson College for decades. He is the most prolific physicist in this area of study. In 1984, he published his first book on the subject and since has published numerous books and articles in dance as well as physics publications. The most current book was published in 2008 that he co-wrote with dance scientist and ballet educator/coach, Arleen Sugano or "Miss A," as she is commonly known.
Together, Dr. Laws and Miss A designed an electronic barre, built to specifications that measured forces: horizontal, vertical and lateral. A typical ballet class starts with the use of a horizontal pole called a barre; ballet dancers spend a good percentage of their dancing life using this pole to assist in learning positions, steps and lines of ballet as well as principles of physics such as balance, center of gravity, and angular momentum. The two presented the use of this barre with data that supported new insight into ballet technique at both the Performing Arts Medicine Arts conference in Aspen, Colorado in 2002 and for the National Dance Association in 2004.
There is a growing interest in how the principles of physics and biomechanics affect the art of dance. In 2010, International Alliance of Dance Medicine and Science invited Miss A to Birmingham, England to speak about the physics of pirouettes (turns). Professor Melanie Lott has been doing experimental research on the physics of dance as part of a course of study in her Physics and Astronomy Department at Denison University in Ohio. In one of the experiments, her research team collected motion capture data to track positions of the body and center of mass throughout a certain turn.
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