If you ask a dance instructor if they like to teach engineers some of the latest dance moves, more than likely, the answer will be an astounding “yes!”
Engineers are proficient at understanding movements and mechanics, making them great candidates to swirl around on the dance floor like Fred Astaire.
“If you have a base of Newton’s laws, it can help you use the floor better for power and speed,” said Sean Tamashiro, who is a Northern California dance instructor and professional dancer.
Tamashiro has performed in professional and amateur competitions and teaches salsa, ballroom, and wedding dance lessons to students. He said understanding the body-dance connection can help performers improve their skills. A difficult task in dance instruction is teaching pressure points on each foot in stationary movements as well as completing full weight changes, according to Tamashiro.
“We have no data analysis to chart like golf and baseball, but we do guess as best as possible based on looking for how you react to movements using external and internal rotations of your legs, lumbar, and thoracic spine extension, and opposing forces with the body to the floor,” said Tamashiro.
Enter the profession of engineering. Engineers have methodical minds. They understand the pathway to each step and are good with patterns that can lead to a dancer’s great footwork. Students from the University of New Mexico and Arizona State University have completed a research project that resulted in dancers’ ability to improve the quality of their skills. They used smart-sensing technologies like structural vibrations, wireless smart sensors, and human-machine interfaces to provide valuable data for dancers.
“This research is about connecting engineering with art. Our goal was to see if we could use engineering to determine the quality of a dance in a language that dancers would benefit from,” New Mexico University SMILab research assistant Elijah Wycoff told the University of New Mexico Newsroom in a recent interview.
On a personal level, if an engineer wants a successful trip down the dance floor, both languages of art and technology must be spoken, understood, and executed efficiently, according to Tamashiro.
“The other factor that is important is understanding the timing and rhythm of music. Some engineering students understand it, but have a hard time applying [it],” he said.
If you’re interested in finding an engineer, be sure to check if their license is valid and in good standing by visiting the California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists by visiting https://www.bpelsg.ca.gov/.