MONARCH — Did Albert Einstein dance while developing the Theory of Relativity? Did Thomas Edison trip the light fantastic while inventing the light bulb? Did Alexander Graham Bell do a pirouette while inventing the telephone? Did Orville and Wilbur Wright square dance at Kitty Hawk?
Probably not, but on the other hand dance and science are not mutually exclusive as both are the products of human creativity, and so it should come as no surprise that dance and science were recently combined as a means of entertainment and education at Monarch Elementary School.
On Wednesday, March 7, Monarch Elementary hosted a visit from Ballet Spartanburg which came to the school through a MUSE Machine grant the school received this year. According to a press release issued by the school, the grant “brings three visiting productions to the school to help educate the students about the art of dance, storytelling and music.”
The press release states Ballet Spartanburg “performed a dance centered around science. The story of the water cycle was taught through the performance.”
Students were not passive observers being entertained by the ballet company, however, but were instead “given pre- and post- activities to do in the classroom to go along with the performance.”
The press release states that “this integration of science and dance goes right along with the school’s focus for this school year, which is Arts Integration in the classroom.”
In addition to being educational, the press release states Ballet Spartanburg’s performance was also quite entertaining and even inspiring.
”The students and staff really enjoyed the performance,” the press release states, adding that “some of the students were even spotted trying some ballet throughout the day!”
And that’s how it should be, because dance is very much a part of the human experience and has been for a very long time, with dancers depicted in paintings in India dating back as far as 9,000 BC. Dancing has been chronicled and/or depicted on the pottery of Neolithic China, temple walls of ancient Egypt, in the writings of the historians and philosophers of ancient Greece, and in The Bible.
Furthermore, it is believed that, before the invention of writing, dance — along with the sung and/or spoken word — was used to help hand down the stories and histories of ancient peoples from generation to generation. If so, then Ballet Spartanburg’s performance at MES was in keeping with a tradition of storytelling and education that dates backs thousands of years.
Science is equally ancient in its origins, and, surprisingly, also predates the written word, as human beings began to study and learn about the world around them. While science has changed much over the millenia and through those changes humanity has learned much more about the world and universe around it, the impetus to understand those things and transmit the knowledge gained to succeeding generations began a very long time ago and continues to this day in schools like Monarch Elementary School.
Given all this, the combination of dance and science is a magnificent one that can enhance the learning experience of our children and inspire in them a desire to learn more through scientific inquiry and express themselves through the art of dance. It’s a combination we should see more of in all our schools as we, like previous generations, seek to creatively pass down the knowledge of our generation to our children’s generation and prepare them to do the same for their children.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.