Join us for the first Physics Colloquium of the Spring 2012 semester on Thursday, February 2nd at Noon in Tome 115. Melanie Lott, PhD Candidate in Physics at Bryn Mawr College will present "The Physics of Balance During Rotations in Dance". Free pizza & everyone welcome!
Abstract: Applying physical principles to human bodies in motion can provide insight into ways in which the body can move more efficiently and how injuries can be prevented. This presentation will deal with one of the most common movements in dance - the pirouette, or a turn around a vertical axis with one supporting foot on the floor. Dancers are often taught to perform pirouettes by beginning the movement as close to a balanced position as possible and holding the body rigidly, as opposed to trying to correct for an imbalance with small adjustments during the turn. Many, even advanced, dancers have significant difficulty performing more than a two- or three-turn pirouette before losing balance, despite continued trial and error efforts to improve. How can dancers use physics to improve their pirouettes? Insight gained from the analysis of a theoretical model of a dancer toppling from a pirouette is combined with data collected from real dancers performing pirouettes. By comparing the strategies used by various dancers to regain balance during pirouette, we can better understand how dancers can perform multiple rotations as an aesthetically pleasing, balanced movement.