Page 11 - Weinberg Magazine
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ON News WEINBERG SPRING /SUMMER 2014  9 CAMPUS A fractal is a patern that repeats FRACTAL itself in ever-smaller scales — in snow crystals For help, he turned to his dramaturge, Weinberg College Professor of English Susan Manning, DANCE or clouds, say, or in the motifs in Buddhist who led him to Jesse Wolfson, a doctoral mandalas. student in the Department of Mathematics. BY REBECCA LINDELL Fractals appear with striking regularity in Wolfson had no prior training in dance, but African art and culture, so much so that agreed to work with Wilson and his Fist & Heel Brooklyn-based choreographer Reggie Wilson Performance Group to help them recognize sought to incorporate them into a dance piece and express mathematical ideas through that would depict the migration of African choreography. The result is the production people throughout the world. Moses(es), which premiered in Philadelphia last fall before playing in New York, Washington and Chicago. The New York Times described The movement is wonderfully loose, but the the production as a “thrilling work” driven by structure is strict, layers carefully packed, the energy of fractal paterns. not stufed in. Dancers line up, pile up, The experience was illuminating for Wolfson, push and pull, take turns; a phrase moves who found the “sophistication and ubiquity” of down the line, breaks into canon form in fractals throughout African cultures fascinating. He was struck in particular by the design of six parts. All the motifs recur. Bantu cities: large rings of family enclosures built around smaller rings of circular houses, The New York Times each of which contains a miniature ringed city representing the dwellings of ancestors. “The self-similarity of the urban design embodies social values such as communality, reciprocity and interconnectedness,” Wolfson says. “It’s been eye-opening to encounter abstract mathematics used to communicate and reinforce specifc social meanings.” The experience has led Wolfson to see the discipline of dance through new eyes. “By teaching me to see and understand dance as they do, (Wilson and the Fist & Heel group) have helped me beter understand and more richly experience an activity and art form that I love,” he says. “It’s been a privilege to work so closely with such talented and creative artists, and it has been deeply satisfying to do so using mathematics and mathematical ideas.” PHOTO: RANDY OLSON [ MORE AT ] wcas.nu/fractal-dance
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