English faculty links Arts and Mathematics through Dance

Tolmie danceOn Friday, March 13th at 7:30pm, Dr. Sarah Tolmie of UWaterloo’s Department of English will be a featured speaker in the  Bridges Lecture Series, which “aims to overcome the gap between Mathematics and the Arts.” Dr. Tolmie’s talk is titled “Dancing the Math of Complex Systems”–read on to discover more.

The Raw Nerve Research Group (RNRG) is an interdisciplinary collective based at UW that specializes in “thinking with our feet,” using dance and game-like movement to explore research questions, and as an alternate means of data presentation. It was founded by Sarah Tolmie in 2011 and Dawn Parker has just joined. We are going to use our “embodied cognition pedagogy” to explain some key concepts in Dawn’s area of research, the mathematics of complex systems. We will walk the audience through a definition of a complex system and introduce deterministic and stochastic theories of how emergent data patterns form, showing diverse examples: how plants grow, how people distribute themselves in a city, how improv performers interact. In an agent-based model we will ask audience members to join us in a walking demonstration of preferential attachment, one principle that generates common emergent forms such as fractals or power law distributions.

The talk will be held in Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s, on University of Waterloo Campus.


One response to “English faculty links Arts and Mathematics through Dance

  1. I graduated from Waterloo in 1996 and went on to earn a BEd from York. For 16 years I taught Kindergarten in the York Region School Board and during that time I explored Dance in so many ways to connect children to the world. One of my own daughters struggled with learning disability yet is highly physically intelligent. We found that her grasp of complex ideas always came through the body.
    So I took what I was able to understand about her way of communicating into the classroom.
    Through dance we explored the structure of storytelling, the phases of the moon, the movement of the planets, the ebb and flow of water, area, perimeter, mass, magnetic poles, the infinite precision of patterns, and the wonderful interconnection of gears, to name only a few of our explorations. I found that there was no limit to the conceptual understandings that could be reached through dance. I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to have been part of that beautiful way of learning. The possibilities are endless and Dance transcends all imposed barriers.

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