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Physics Paper on the Physical Aspects of Dance

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    Physics can simply be defined as the science that studies the mechanics of matter, motion, energy, and force. Dance in my opinion is a type of performance categorized as a form of art that involves the mind, body, soul, and a little something called physics. Dancing is a personal favorite hobby of mine, but I’ve never really considered the physics side of dancing which seems odd considering all the different movements and techniques that involve many principles of physics such as rotational inertia, gravitational force, motion, velocity, momentum, and torque.

    Balance is a huge element in a dancer’s life, without balance a dancer cannot perform any type of movement or technique. This is where the concept of The Center of Gravity steps in because it is the point at which an object will balance and stay balanced with minimal instability. This statement can only be proven true if a dancer concentrates his or her entire weight at this point. There are other things that act on a dancer such as gravity which pulls down, the support from the floor which pulls up, and the friction from the floor which resists relative motion from either side of the dancer.

    Gravity Floor Support Balance can be described as an equation that involves no total force and no total torque, without total force the momentum doesn’t change and without total torque the angular momentum doesn’t change either. Balance is a key ingredient in turns as well as other components. There are four specific components needed to perform a graceful turn which are balance, angular velocity, rotational inertia, and angular momentum.

    These four components illustrate the dancers ability to have poise or carry oneself without toppling over this is balance, the speed at which a dancer spins is described by angular velocity, the inertia a spinning dancer is determined by the dancers rotational inertia, angular momentum is the dancers skill to continue rotating as well as maintain ones orientation and balance. Physics plays a role in many aspects of dance especially in jumps such as leaps, saute arabesques, and somersaults.

    One major factor in these jumps is gravitational force, simply because gravity only affects vertical motion. Gravitational forces are relative to ones mass, so let’s say that a child dancer weighs 60 pounds compared to an adult dancer who weighs 120 pounds; the adult dancer’s gravitational force will be double the child’s. When a dancer leaps their vertical position versus time can be graphed as a parabola but because there is no forces in a horizontal force it can be plotted as a linear graph.

    In conclusion dance is a very beautiful form of art that requires grace, poise, and confidence. As well as attributes related to physics such as gravitational force, angular momentum, and of course balance. So as I was researching and writing this paper I realized how much dance and physics truly are intertwined, and how one can better improve themselves in their skills in the art of dancing if they simply know a little about the physical mechanics of dancing.



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    Physics Paper on the Physical Aspects of Dance. (2017, Feb 23). Retrieved from

    Frequently Asked Questions

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    How is dance connected to science?
    The material of dance – essentially, the human body – does of course also suggest a natural affinity with human biology. Indeed choreographer Wayne McGregor has created pieces directly inspired by neuroscience (such as AtaXia, 2004) and cardiology (Amu, 2005).
    How physics is used in dance?
    Motion. When a dancer begins to move, there is also physics involved in the process. In order for a motionless dancer to begin to move, or accelerate, they must move one leg forward while exerting a backward force on the foot remaining in place.

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