Any more Dancing Statistics?

Any more Dancing Statistics?

If you want to see photos of how the project started and has deveoped, as well as links to press and articles released about the project, visit the Dancing Statistics Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dancingstatistics and #dancingstatistics

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Dancing Statistics Team

Dancers Back Row: Lydia Baker, Verity Holt, Antigone Ardi, Mateusz Czekaj, Laura Hayward Middle row: Alison Whitaker, Amy-Louise Watson, Depi Gorgogianni, Isha Naravane, Zoe Francis Front Row: Kyle Stevenson (Filmmaker), Elise Phillips (Project Manager), Lucy Irving (Founder), Masha Gurina (Choreographer), Andy Field (Statistical Expert).

European Network of Opera and Dance, an article

European Network of Opera and Dance, an article

I was invited to write an article for the ‘GENERATION Y: Engaging young adults in opera and dance’ conference in Brussels, October 2013, organised by Reseo (see previous blog to see how that came about).  They wanted me to share my perspective as a young adult involved in dance and how/why I felt the English National Ballet’s and Royal Opera Houses of Europe could make their projects more accessible and engaging for young adults… through using dance of course!

“We have heard of projects that used dance to teach subjects like science and humanities in primary or secondary schools. But what about more high-level concepts? The recent ‘Dance Your PhD’ competitions struck a relationship between dance and conveying highly academic concepts. But ‘conveying’ is not the same as ‘teaching’. What would happen if you used dance to teach high-level, even degree-level, concepts?

I recently managed and co-produced an innovative project that aimed to teach degree-level statistics through short dance films. A collaboration between artists and academics, the ‘Dancing Statistics’ films were designed to guide non-dance trained audiences through watching and understanding carefully composed choreographies that demonstrate fundamental statistical concepts.

Statistics can be tough to teach, as the subject matter can be dry and complex. Lecturers constantly look for novel ways to present information to make it more engaging and to make learning (and teaching) easier. Dance was able to offer a completely novel perspective on the subject: it is dynamic, human, aesthetic and different to what is normally seen in lecture theatres.

Statistics are essentially about demonstrating relationships (similarity, difference, effect) – dance is innately well placed to illustrate just that. Dance and movement are made up of: the body, space, time, relationships and actions. Any subject that relates to any of those ‘structures’ can be accessed through dance. For me, using dance to demonstrate and facilitate learning seems like a natural step. Get up and be the statistic or the molecule or the musical note!

Further than watching dance, actually participating in dance as part of a learning process can physiologically improve learning. It creates more neural pathways for the information going into the brain – not just reading and listening, but doing, relating, moving through space. The more neural pathways created when learning, the deeper the encoding and the better the recall of information – the ‘better’ the learning. But its not just an extra layer to the learning, dance also offers a way into learning for different types of learners. It can be a challenge to access kinesthetic learners in a classroom or workshop, especially if the learning involves a lot of listening and writing. Dance is an obvious way in for kinesthetic learners and can therefore be useful for teaching many subjects, especially ones that naturally lean towards one other learning style.

Stepping back and thinking more widely, consider the transformational benefits of dance on an individual and social level. Participation in dance has been shown to re-engage at risk young people with work and education (Dance United, UK), adults with dementia have become animated and reminiscent (Art of Touch, Lucinda Jarrett, UK). Now consider dance as a teaching tool in schools, universities & community centers having positive social impacts as well as deepening knowledge and understanding of a multitude of subjects. Sounds like nothing but a good thing. I, for one, am excited to see the impact of continued integration of dance with all sorts of education.

Watch the Dancing Statistics films on the British Psychological Society’s YouTube channel (bpsmediacentre). If you would like to find out more about the Dancing Statistics project, follow the conversation on Twitter: #dancingstatistcs

The project was possible because of the hard work and creativity of the Dancing Statistics Team, including: founder, Lucy Irving; project manager and producer, Elise Phillips; statistics lead, Andy Field; choreographer, Masha Gurina, filmmaker, Kyle Stevenson; and a fabulous team of dancers. Not forgetting the support from our funders: the British Psychological Society and IdeasTap. (Photography by Jonathon Vines.)”

See the original article on the Reseo website.

UPDATE 3/1/17: The films are still used by statistics lecturers and students across the country (and beyond) – including the legendary Andy Field! – and have been viewed nearly 200,000 times so far. The project was featured online and print publications by the British Psychological Society, in numerous blogs and online news outlets, as well as in The Times Higher Education Supplement.

Europe, lend me your ear!

Clare Guss-West is a very interesting woman.  She is the dance moderator for the European Network of Opera and Dance (Reseo): a network of all the “movers and shakers” in dance and opera across Europe (think ENB, ROH).  I was lucky enough to be contacted by Clare to speak about dance, its various uses and how it can be used to capture imagination.

She found out about me through LinkedIn and my involvement in the Dancing Statistics project.  We met on Skype (slightly wierd for a first introduction!), did our introductions, and Clare asked me some questions.

Clare spoke of how she is interested in dance as a teaching tool, not just for teaching ‘the ususal’ curriculum subjects, but as a way into learning about music and opera – dancing the different qualities of the music to give a novel perspective by which to experience the music.  Clare was presenting this idea at the Reseo ‘GENERATION Y: Engaging young adults in opera and dance’ conference in Brussels, October ’13.  She said wanted to capture the imagination of the delegates and get them thinking laterally of new ways to make arts in big oragnisations accessible and creative.

She wanted my perspective as a young adult as to how it might be possible to make dance, opera and the arts approachable and engaging for other young adults.  She wanted to know about other projects I’d been involved in that were for young adults, about Dancing Statistics (as a clear example of using dance to access non-dance-related subject matter), and about my wider interests in dance and its potential uses.

It turned out we had both previously been involved in research projects investigating the use of dance with older adults, including those with dementia (though she set up a research project, where I only assisted in one!), and our conversation even strayed to the positive social impacts of dance more widely.  Such sparkling conversation after meeting on Skype!

After talking, Clare invited me to write “something” relating to what we’d talked about (she later referred to my “something” as an article – thank you very much!) to give to the delegates at the conference and put on the Reseo online newsletter.  Amazing.  I often feel that children and young people get an aweful lot of focus from arts projects (and indeed a gazillion other governement initiatives), so to be asked to write as a young adult about my ‘perspective’, my passionate opinions and beliefs around the efficacy and power of dance as a tool for many things was fantastic.

I would like to see more projects, work placements, funds, master classes, and opportunities for young adults – or rather young adults at the start of their artistic careers.  I speak as one of them: I’m not an emerging artist, I’m not a virtuosic youth, I’m a young adult and I want to make a go of being an artist – help me out!

Maybe I should start setting up opportunities for others instead of waiting for them (and stick to the managing and production and writing)…

Dancing Statistics in the press much?!

Dancing Statistics in the press much?!

I’m astounded. The four Dancing Statistics films, teaching statistics to psychology students through dance, have been viewed over 35,000 times in their first 2 weeks of release! If you’ve not seen them, now’s your chance (now you know you’re missing out!) http://t.co/NgBQXVmd2I.

The project has received glowing reviews, tweets and comments from all angles of online publications and social media and now it’s getting printed press!

Dancer Track Magazine (NY, USA) will be publishing a story about Dancing Statistics within the next month.

British Psychological Society will be publishing an article about the project in their November magazine, released to their entire membership of psychology professionals across the country!

But some of the most touching exposure has been individuals blogging about how they use the films in lectures. That’s genuine interest, not just PR. (See #dancingstatistics on twitter if you’re interested to know who’s been chatting about it.)

Also, did I mention, the Dancing Statistics films have been viewed over 35,000 times within the first 2 weeks of their release?!  If you’ve not seen them, get on it!… http://t.co/NgBQXVmd2I

—UPDATE 14.03.2015 —

The Dancing Statistics series have been viewed over 120,000 times to date! Phenomenal!

Dancing Statistics films go LIVE

Dancing Statistics films go LIVE

An innovative film project aiming to engage Psychology students through dance is currently creating a storm in academic circles.

The films, a collaboration between artists and academics, acheived approximately 15,000 hits within its first week of release. The four short films use dance to visualise statistical concepts used in Psychology degree courses across the country.

The unique films have been designed to guide a non-dance trained audience through attending to carefully composed choreographies that demonstrate fundamental statistical concepts.

A team of dance professionals – choreographer, Masha Gurina, and filmmaker, Kyle Stevenson, together with 10 dancers – provided the artistic vision, while the UK’s leading psychology statistician, Prof. Andy Field, and Research Methods lecturer, Lucy Irving, guided the statistical side of the project.

Lucy, who Founded the project, says: “Statistics at degree level are complex and exciting at best, dull and insufferable at worst. Students often think of them as a ‘dark art’, therefore they can be challenging to teach. I wanted to find an engaging and fun way to present material which is dreaded by so many”.

Elise Phillips, Project Manager, says “This project is unique in that it has not just used the complex intellectual concepts as starting points for a creative process. It uses creativity with the clarity and specificity necessary to actually teach the concept it started from.”

The project attracted funding from British Psychological Society’s Public Engagement Grant and IdeasTap’s IdeasFund. The films are available from the BPS’s official YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/1auB5sm. You can follow the discussion on Twitter (#dancingstatistics).

Releasing Press

Releasing Press

Dancing Statistics Press Release

An innovative film project aiming to engage Psychology students through dance is set to launch later this month.

A collaboration between artists and academics, the resulting four short films use dance to visualise statistical concepts used in Psychology degree courses across the country.

The unique films have been designed to guide a non-dance trained audience through attending to carefully composed choreographies that demonstrate fundamental statistical concepts.

A team of dance professionals – choreographer, Masha Gurina, and filmmaker, Kyle Stevenson, together with 10 dancers – provided the artistic vision, while the UK’s leading psychology statistician, Prof. Andy Field, and Psychology and Research Methods lecturer, Lucy Irving, guided the statistical side of the project.

Lucy, who founded the project, says: “Statistics at degree level are complex and exciting at best, dull and insufferable at worst. Students often think of them as a ‘dark art’, therefore they can be challenging to teach. I wanted to find an engaging and fun way to present material which is dreaded by so many”.

Elise Phillips, Project Manager, says “This project is unique in that it has not just used the complex intellectual concepts as starting points for a creative process. It uses creativity with the clarity and specificity necessary to be able to actually teach the concept it started from.”

The project attracted funding from British Psychological Society’s Public Engagement Grant, and IdeasTap’s IdeasFund. The films will be available from the BPS’s official YouTube channel from 27th September 2013.