Physics and Dance: Sarah Demers and Emily Coates

September 25, 2019

On September 25, the Yale Center for Collaborative Arts and Media (CCAM) opened its Wednesday Wisdom series with a joint talk by Sarah Demers, Horace D. Taft associate professor of physics, and Emily Coates, associate professor adjunct of theater studies and drama and Wright Lab artist-in-residence. 

Coates and Demers began their presentation by describing the various science-art projects in different mediums that have been the fruits of their nine-year collaboration. They discussed how they developed a manifesto for interdisciplinary research, which grounds their collaborative practice, and how each project has embodied their manifesto in different ways. Among other examples, they shared the visual imagery they had commissioned to illustrate dance and physics in their book, Physics and Dance (Yale University Press 2018). 

During the presentation, five members of the audience were invited to join a choreographic study, in which the volunteers moved around the space, responding to prompts that created a seamless group flow.  This was followed by an explanation of choreographic complexity and an explanation of how this exercise is related to Newton’s Third Law of Motion, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

The presentation ended with a science video that Coates and Demers developed in 2013, titled “Three Views of the Higgs and Dance,” in which physicists from CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) discuss the discovery of the elusive Higgs boson particle.

Subscribe to the CCAM Newsletter

* indicates required