Physics of Dance

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Many people fail to realize the importance of physics in athletics. People who are untrained in the scientific field may believe that an athlete’s performance level is solely based on their skill-set, such as strength and training. However, one’s ability to employ physics concepts is the true determinant for success. This is imperative to dancers; most movement and technique can be improved dramatically by following Newton’s laws accordingly. By utilizing key physics concepts, a dancer can improve by locating the center of balance and determining the force vectors of a Grande Jette jump. Maintaining a strong center of balance is one of the key principles of strong dance technique. Whether dancers are working to control their turns or maintaining a position while standing on their toes, they are always instructed to “hold their center” or “keep a strong core.” These instructions may seem foreign to non-dancers, they both relate to the physics concept of static balance; by holding the center of gravity directly above the area of contact with the floor, a dancer will have zero net force and therefore hold their position steady. This is the only way a dancer can stay balanced in the arabesque (when the position of the body is supported on one leg as the other leg is extended behind the body). To ensure that the net force of gravity sums up to zero, a dancer must offset the weight of his/her back leg by leaning over with the upper body just enough distance. Since the leg has less mass, it must be stretched farter away from the center of gravity as the heavier torso bends forward a smaller distance so the force vectors across the x-axis are equal. If properly executed, the gravity’s downward push (due to the force of gravity) and the floor’s upward push (due to normal force) will be aligned straight through the dancer’s body to the point of contact with the floor. This will equate to zero net forces, and the body will remain balanced. This concept of “center of...
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