Take a look at this short clip from one short section of a piece we whimsically call “A Piece of Paper.”  What do you observe?

When dancers auditioned for DanceScienceFest, they were surprised to have the director give them each a piece of paper.  The challenge was to make the paper stay in their hands without it being grasped.  He demonstrated that the way to do this is to make sure that the paper continues to move.  There are lots of motions and interesting techniques that go along with keeping the paper in your hand, and playing with these led to a piece that was the first to be choreographed.  It’s now placed at the end of the entire performance as a capstone and summary of all that we do.  (To see this entire section, about 10 minutes, see this video of another performance in front of about 1000 elementary students from Ogden, UT.)

Being able to keep the paper in your hand in this way is not only a challenge, but it tells you something about the nature of the space around you.  Go ahead: find a piece of paper and start to play with it in the same ways that you see these dancers playing with paper.  (It’s hard!  And it takes practice!  That’s exactly why we like to perform it.)  Then see what new ways you can imagine and practice to move the paper in the palm of your hand.

If you’d like a special piece of paper to inspire you, here’s our “Not A Piece of Paper” paper.

This leads to some other interesting questions, we think:

  • What does the paper tell you about the air around us?
  • How would this be different (or the same) if there were no air?
  • What forces are acting on the paper?
  • What do you think the paper means?
  • What else could you do with the paper, either scientifically or artistically?

2 thoughts on “paper

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