How Does Dance Connect With Mathematics?

7 simple ways to teach mathematics with dance.
  • Angles

  • Geometry

  • Patterns

  • Symmetry

  • Translations

  • Rotations

  • Numbers and Counting

For some teachers, the idea of using movement to teach math is unheard of. After all, math education is most often taught sitting at a desk. However, a lot of math requires an individual to have spacial awareness or to be able to conceptualize what is being taught. For students who lack these skills, math seems very confusing.

Let’s look at some mathematical concepts that can directly relate to movement through space and shapes with the body. Angles, geometry, patterns, symmetry, translations, and rotations all stimulate the senses and require some aspect of understanding space.

There are many ways in which we can work, for example, with geometry, we can make geometric shapes with the body, with partners, or with dance formations. In the same way, we can work with angles, showing the use of angles with our extremities, or in space be it through formations, pathways, or rotations.

Patterning has an obvious connection to dance. Patterning actually makes a dance piece more accessible to the audience. If the choreography is too random, it’s hard to follow. Theme and variation, patterns and unison, are key elements of good choreography. Patterning is easily paired with symmetry in dance as well. The same movement phrase can be flipped, translated, or turned giving the audience more ways to experience the same movement themes.

Because dance is done to music, this gives us another way in which we can include math. In the most basic way, counting each step. But these counts can easily represent a number pattern or be inspired by arithmetic, or algebraic expression. In the same way, dance is paired with music through the quality of sound and tone. Tones are based on ratios, and the mathematics of the musical scale is not an elementary mathematical lesson in the least.

So while dance may seem to have only a basic and elementary connection to math, in reality, dance lessons can successfully connect to advanced mathematics taught in high school. Some of my favorite lessons include functions and angular circular velocity.

The best part about using dance to teach mathematics is that you can explore dance along with your students. By using structured improvisation you can set the perimeters for creating a dance based on mathematics, and it’s up to your students to create the dance. In my first book, I outline how to teach dance in a very simple way, and how to begin to introduce concepts. In my second book, I focus on choreography whereby using numbers to generate the dance, patterns, group formations, and movement through space.

If you’d like to arrange an online workshop for your school, please contact me directly. Typically a group workshop is a minimum of 3 hours and includes all of my written and recorded resources.

When you join my online course, you’ll have immediate access to my books, music, and lesson examples. The course includes both live sessions and pre-recorded videos so that you can review lessons at your leisure. Please do not hesitate to schedule a call, I’m always pleased to answer questions.

Keep dancing!

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