Aired: November 5, 2011

The Physics of Dance: Step by Step

Nine teams of step dancers from black Greek organizations wowed spectators recently at what has become the largest folk festival in the nation.  Dance historian Benita Brown (Virginia State University) says stepping routines at the sororities and fraternities are part of a tradition that goes back to African tribal rituals.  Folklorist Jon Lohman (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities) says step competitions are a way for participants to express a connection to their community.

Also: At 92, Frances Wessells (Virginia Commonwealth University) is still vibrant and teaching a college level improvisational dance class.  She is now in her 69th year of teaching dance.

Also featured:  The principles of physics are very much in play in stepping and all forms of dance.  Christopher Hughes (James Madison University) studies the science behind a dancer’s breathtaking moments on stage: from ballet pirouettes to the moves of hip-hop.


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