Young people invited to Dance the Universe

Could you dance like the stars? Are your performance skills as explosive as a supernova? If you think you can put together a dance routine that is out of this world then the University of Portsmouth would like to hear from you.

Astronomers at the University’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) have come up with an unusual way to engage young people in science – a dance challenge that involves interpreting cosmic topics like dark energy and supernovae.

Could a spiral galaxy be your inspiration?
Image: NASA

People between 11 and 16 and of any dancing skill level can take part in the free dance and astrophysics project. They will be involved in choreographing and performing a routine representing the following exciting topics.

Astrophysics and dance might seem to some like an unusual pairing but ICG’s Dr Violeta Gonzalez-Perez says the cosmos and choreography can happily go hand in hand. “We want to encourage participants to explore physics from a totally different perspective,” explains Dr Gonzalez-Perez. “The idea is to get inspiration from nature – from the explosive death of massive stars (supernovae) to the characteristics of gravity, which pulls things together.”

The idea for this project started as a possible way to mitigate the fact that female participation in physics drops dramatically during the teen years. Only a fifth of physics students are women beyond the age of 16, despite previous good performance.

“Many girls are interested in dancing, so we hope this will be a good way to engage that group – although boys are also very welcome,” says Dr Gonzalez-Perez. “We want to encourage students to learn more about their chosen scientific topic and really engage with the concepts through movement. But of course, just as important is providing them with a fun and confidence-boosting challenge.”

Participants can choose to take part in either a free workshop or enter an online competition. The Dancing the Universe workshop takes place on Wednesday, 30 May at Priory School, Portsmouth. The workshop will be led by professional dancers Grace Hall, of Neptune Girls group, and Roni Edwards, from Pamodzi Creatives.

Alternatively groups and individuals can enter the online competition by registering their own dancing creation by Sunday 1 July. There will be three winners based on artistry and scientific content.

Participants and their parents will be invited to a sharing event to see videos made during the workshop and those created by the online winners.

Registration opens on Thursday, 15 March. For further details visit http://www.icg.port.ac.uk/outreach-resources/dancing-the-universe/

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