This is the first of a series of blogs from the Edinburgh Science Festival. As part of a competition, myself and six other bloggers will be writing about the event during the fortnight.
It’s the Edinburgh Science Festival; expect the unexpected. Go see a lecture called Emotion and Motion, you end up taking part of a 100-person dance routine.
Dr Peter Lovatt is an academic from the gloriously-titled Dance Psychology Lab at the University of Hertfordshire (I seriously hope it’s part of the Faculty of Funk). Together with choreographer Ruth Mills and members of the Dance House Company, he gave an invigorating presentation on what we see when we watch someone dancing. What’s the minimum information we need to interpret the dancer’s intentions?
Using six points of light attached to her shoulders, wrists and ankles - similar to motion capture used in animated films - a dancer performed a series of moves. It was surprisingly easy to ‘read’ her emotions. It was striking how similar this technique is to the cartoonist’s use of stick figures - complex information reduced ot its simplest form, relying on context and common language for interpretation.
It was a terrific lecture, greatly enlivened by dance routines from Ruth Mills and her company. But it didn’t stop there. Oh no - Dr Dance has a mission. He got the entire audience on its feet, learning a set of simple routines to make Travoltas of us all.