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Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2018 Abstracts

Prism - A Dance of Light

Rebecca Penn-Pierson, Utah Valley University

As humans we analyze the world around us, constantly asking questions and categorizing. Much as a scientist would ask questions and create hypotheses, so does a choreographer. We ask questions of our world and how it may be translated into cohesive movement form. Undertaken in this research project is the creation of a choreographic work, based on the way different wavelengths of light refract through a prism. The original Newton’s Prism Experiment explores the conundrum of white light refracting through a prism, as it manifests through as a rainbow. White light, property wise, contains colors that are not visible to the naked eye, but when the white light meets the prism - the different wavelengths of the different colors separates them. Violet, having the most compact wavelength, has more opportunities to refract through the prism, and thus comes out the other side at the steepest angle. Red on the other hand, has the least compact wavelength, giving the prism less opportunities to refract it, thus it comes out at the least distorted angle. Translating this into a choreographic work, each performer represents a different color of the rainbow. The process of abstraction is used to explore movement vocabulary based on the qualities of the colors and their wavelengths. For example, violet light is explored spatially through carving and twisting, and compact movement. As choreography is developed through experimentation, the white light representing the uniformity of the colors is embodied through the synchronized movements of flocking. Stage lighting is added to represent uniformity, individuality, and relationships between the colors. Abstracting the prism’s distortion, formations were created as spatial relationships of the dancers to each other, and to the stage. Found through this process of abstraction, are the parallels between scientific principles and methods, to the choreographic process. This thesis explores the relation of scientific principles to choreographic creation.