New requirement for a Ph.D.: You gotta dance

Not really, but if you feel like it, go ahead and record it. There’s a contest for the best interpretive dance of your Ph.D. project (here are some past winners). Easy, right? Perform your dance, record it and submit the video, and maybe you’ll win $500, a trip to Brussels, and eternal fame and glory.

(Also on Sb)


  1. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    1. Given the sheer length of the performance and its malingering tendency toward sweaty repetition, it would have been unlikely to win.
    2. Further, as that dance requires a flying leap into a suitably sized abyss of uncertainty and stultifying indecision, it is really unsuitable for conventional venues.
    3. If my committee were even to harbor the slightest suspicion that such a performance were being choreographed, they likely would put an end to my efforts by whatever means necessary.

    Thus, I have chosen to spare us all.

  2. says

    Hmmm. If I could create some convincing costumes, perhaps I could dance out the phenotypic changes between the instars of my caterpillars. Acronicta funeralis goes from a bird-poop mimic to a bizarre aposematic pattern with giant paddles on its back. Ohhhh I’ll have to do some more brainstorming on this.

  3. ChasCPeterson says

    Fuckin graduate theses. You really have to watch out for pseudo-relevé-tion in these. And special plié-ding.

  4. says

    At Fordham I once taught a class with about 15 Alvin Ailey dance majors that the school scheduled to accommodate their dance classes. Can one of them write and perform it for me? I’ve seen them dance, I guarantee I’d win.

  5. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    ChasCPeterson: You’ll just have to take my word for it that my cap is doffed in your general direction.

  6. says

    Mine would involve John Belushi’s bee costume, plastic explosives, and a jelly dildo, all danced to Enigma’s “The Principles of Lust”.

    Don’t even get me started on the clown fish. :)

  7. Dr. Strabismus (WGP) of Utrecht says

    If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, surely the reverse is true. And dancing about architecture can’t be much harder than dancing about physics or biology, or “Northern Thai Peasant Society: a Case study of Juraland Political Structures at the Village Level and their Twentieth Century Transformation”.

    And I can write about music all day, no sweat!

  8. chigau () says

    Steve @11
    You must present a PowerPoint presentation ‘splaining the mathy angles, like, y’know?

  9. Interrobang says

    It’s a good thing PhDs didn’t have a dance requirement when you were in school, eh, PZed? ;)

  10. says

    Emulating Jules Feiffer’s dancer:

    “A dance to algebra errors involving the equal sign … a tragedy in one senseless act.”

  11. Lane says

    I’ve been watching this contest for a couple of years now because I would really like to do it someday. I’ll be starting my PhD next fall, and assuming it’s still running, watch out for a tiny neurobiologist lady in a couple of years, which may or may not involve an astrocyte-neuron foxtrot, or perhaps a protein aggregate tango (get it: tangle, tango? har har har).

  12. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    It’s a good thing PhDs didn’t have a dance requirement when you were in school, eh, PZed? ;)

    That’s all they had back in the day. Well. a song and dance anyways.

  13. says

    As a mathematics graduate student, I define “dance” to be a pair (m,X) of a motion m and a music X such that (1) m is a Hälfass regular series, (2) m matches the rhythm r(X) and (3) m matches the speed s(X) in the Ahlfors sense.

    Pairs (m,X) that fulfill conditions (2),(3) but fail (1) are called choreomania; those with (1),(3) but not (2) paradance and those with (1),(2) but not (3) shitty dancing. These three together are known as quasidances; it is well known any sequence of K-quasidances, where K is the Ahlfors constant, that converge weakly towards a dance can be danced by a person of arbitrary radius r<K within a temporal sphere B(t,r) of arbitrarily small t, if and only if the series incentive I is sufficiently large. It is the celebrated result of Dore, Fasol and Apeshit that \sup_{\textrm{graduate students}} I = I_{\textrm{thesis}}, which explains the paucity of extra-thesical incentives for graduate student dancing.

    As you can see, dancing is easy. For the theory of paired dancing, which is more involved and technical, I refer the curious at the book of Fiddle, Sticks and Apeshit, “An introduction to the theory of dances, quasidances and quasisuperdances in general metric spaces, and nonlinear elliptic systems”, Springer, forthcoming, and Sticks’s paper “On Nijinsky’s phenomenon”, Bull.Sh.Soc., 66 (2007), 5–23 (in Russian).

  14. Nele says

    Teehee. I would have had to dance the early modern constitutional debates about the role of the king and their repurcussions on Shakespeare’s History Plays.

    Would have been funky. :)

  15. blotonthelandscape says

    I read that last bit “eternal flame and gory”. Which is probably true. A special circle of hell is reserved for interpretive dancers…

  16. David Marjanović, OM says

    We need to get DDMFM to do this in New York.

    I’m not good at emulating tree bisection/reconnection as the algorithm is called.

  17. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    DDMFM: You could do some subtree pruning and regrafting, and I’ll slide in with some sectorial searching. And we’ll finish with the tootsie roll.

  18. says

    I had a colleague at UBC who asked her supervisor (in semi-jest) if she could submit her MA thesis in philosophy as a modern dance performance … I forget what the answer was.

  19. Caelan (aka Itsumademootaku) says

    More organizations need to start doing this.

    I’m being sent (possibly against my will) to do a presentation at the national AICHE conference next month, on a paper I co-wrote with a colleague about dissolving solid uranium in a mildly basic environment (resulting in no hydrogen evolution). We found that the only feasible chemistry to do this with involved gigantic quantities of hydrogen peroxide, which gets really fun when there’s a lot of iron in the solution to eat it.

    I think an interpretive dance of the chemistry would be quite pretty, actually. More importantly, though, I could record it instead of having to do it live right after 5 days of brain-numbing computer modeling training!

  20. Drew says

    If Kent Hovind learned to dance, he could take his “doctoral dissertation” to broadway. I’d pay two bits to see that!

  21. Ben says

    My dissertation was on sexual conflict and rape in solitary bees. I can only imagine how frightening my interpretive dance would be.

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