Forces at Play
Conceived and Written by Adam Johnston & Erik Stern
Staged and Choreographed by Erik Stern, in conjunction with the performers.
Performers: Adam Johnston, Josie Patterson, Rodolfo Rafael, Jami Robison-Healey, and Erik Stern
Lighting Design and Technical Direction: Christopher Philion
Costume Design: Jean-Louise England
Videography: Scott Halford
Forces at Play began as Weber State University collaboration between Dance (Stern), Physics (Johnston) and dance students who enrolled in a designated community engaged learning course. It evolved into a touring show drawing on the talents of the co-director and three previous WSU students of Dance and Science. The overall project is called Dance|ScienceFest, and includes original professional development workshops for K-12 teachers on how to connect artistic and scientific thinking and experience in the classroom. Dance|ScienceFest enjoyed the support of several WSU grants.
“Forces at Play” is our second show, based on some of our work from A Body in Motion, but also largely extended from the work we’ve done with teachers and students in workshops. Snow College was thoughtful enough to invite us to present some of our work at their colloquium series, which led us to think about how to re-work our ideas into a new presentation. Like so much of what we’ve done, this started with an idea and grew exponentially. Getting three dedicated dancers to work with us was essential to this work.
Since the successful debut of Forces at Play for an audience of a few hundred students at Snow College, followed by a faculty workshop, we’ve realized that there are multiple venues for the work. As of this writing, we’re getting ready for a performance for our Weber State community in addition to classes from local schools of all levels. (If you’re reading this, you should probably consider yourself invited to the performance! Please reserve seats.)
What’s been interesting to us about this work in general, and Forces at Play in particular, is that we’ve come to realize it’s not simply about interdisciplinary work or crossing borders between arts and science. We’ve been learning that the project is really about learning more generally. What tools do we use? How do we make sense of the world? How do we express ourselves? Dance, physics; art, science — these all contribute to the toolbox. Other disciplines and ways of knowing contribute practices as well. We get to pick out the right tools for the right job, and all together they help us with our individual and collective humanity.