Lee’s Stories

Lee’s Stories

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posted on December 9, 2010 | Teaching and Learning, Sculpture and Art, Science and Nature
Brief Reflections on Experiments

To a scientist like
Experiments, a dance production
that premiered at the
Scotiabank Dance Centre
at the end of November, was special.
It is  rare for
a work of art even to attempt to express the essence
of scientific creativity and Experiments
came much
closer to the mark than I expected at the start.
It is one thing to portray nature in art,
as many productions do, including
many dance productions.
ut science? 

What is science,
not just as a discipline
and body of knowledge but a creative
human endeavor
that engages on deeper,
more emotional, more fundamental levels
many suspect? 
It may seem unrealistic to expect
non verbal, non rational, non quantitative media
like dance to express the abstract, rational, quanti-
tative essence of science.
How could something as
touchy-feely as dance express something as
hard-nosed and logical as science,
or even approximate it?
It happened.

One key was
that choreographer Gail
Lotenberg already knew and under-
stood a lot about science as a way of learning
about the world,
if only by osmosis from her husband,
behavioural ecologist Alejandro Frid, but the subject interes-
ted her long before she met him. 
Coming from that background,
Gail asked many searching questions about science and invited
a team of
ecologists and behavioural ecologists to help
answer them. 
She knew enough about what she
didn’t know to ask good questions.

Other keys were
common purpose, the magic
of dialogue,
and the desire to communicate
across wide gaps of experience, language,
and tradition
In education we call that interactive
engagement – – people talking with other people about
things they only partially understand. In Experiments,
e engaged deeply enough and trusted each other enough
expose our ignorance, which helped us discover  our
strength, and Experiments was what came out of it.
All I need to say about interactive engagement
is that it works.  It
is the #1 most important
in the development of conceptual
and problem
solving in science. 

Other things matter
but interactive engagement
matters most.  Not only that, but when
communication must cross wide gaps in know-
ledge, understanding, and experience,
and across
gaps in terminology or technology it is especially
When people engage deeply and
honestly enough
with others amazing
things can occur. 
That’s how
Experiments came about.

The Most Important Silences Have Been My Own,
Integration, Interaction, & Community,
Secrets of Silence in the Classroom,
Stories about Stories,
Perfect Circles
are about
interactive engagement.

First published in the Vancouver Observer.

Edited January 2019

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