Session leader: Karl Schaffer
Session topic: Moving with Symmetry
Artists as well as scientists must perceive, analyze, and utilize symmetries in space and time. Symmetry may be found in dance in the way positions of the ensemble of dancers repeat in time, as with a variety of folk dances, but also in the relationships between the bodies of individual dancers in space at any given time. These spatial relationships may utilize symmetry or even asymmetry to create movement sequences which express an enormous range of ideas, stories, or images. We will practice differentiating and performing movements with several types of symmetry, will explore how these symmetries compose in pairs, and use this to construct symmetry group tables and to better understand frieze and wallpaper patterns. This leads back to better understanding of how these symmetries appear within dance composition, but also allows us to examine connections with cross-cultural uses of pattern and symmetry in visual arts, design, and language arts.
Karl Schaffer Bio:
Professional dancer and choreographer Karl Schaffer holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California, Santa Cruz in graph theory, and has taught mathematics at De Anza College since 1989. He has co-directed the Santa Cruz-based dance company Dr. Schaffer and Mr. Stern Dance Ensemble for 30 years. Operating under the auspices of MoveSpeakSpin, the company has performed its entertaining and highly physical works internationally, with special focus on dances integrating mathematics and movement. Schaffer and co-director Stern are on the Kennedy Center’s Teaching Artist Roster, and travel frequently sharing their math and dance integration methods in the classroom. Schaffer’s recent concerts include The Daughters of Hypatia, on women mathematicians, which appeared recently at Montalvo Arts Center; Mosaic, on issues of culture, conflict, peace and justice in Palestine and Israel; and Choreocopia, a festival of food, song and dance. Schaffer writes frequently on mathematics and dance, and his writing appeared in The Best Writing on Mathematics 2012.