Math is beautiful, at least the way dancer Jennifer Kirby interprets it.
A graduating senior who is majoring in dance and minoring in communication at of Palm Beach Atlantic University, Kirby recently performed a solo dance on the stage of PBA’s Vera Lea Rinker Hall to illustrate the Fibonacci Sequence, a numerical series in which the next number is found by adding the two numbers preceding it.
Kirby said her mathematics teacher, Dr. Marsha Guntharp, came up with the idea to incorporate mathematics into dance. "Since I am a dance major and an artist, she felt this project would bridge math with what I know and encourage my learning," Kirby said. "She gave me free rein to learn and understand what the concept was and choreograph a dance that most closely expressed the concept through art."
Kirby, who will graduate from PBA’s School of Music and Fine Arts on Dec. 17, performed the ballet for an audience of faculty and students. In the background, a video display helped audience members understand the number sequence.
"After studying and learning that the Fibonacci Sequence in concept forms a perfectly evolving spiral through a mathematic formula, it was just a matter of mapping that sequence on the dance floor and choreographing movements to the spiral," Kirby said.
The feedback she received was quite positive, she said, adding that she received several interesting questions about the mathematics and the dance.
The dance lasted about three and a half minutes, but the choreography took several hours to prepare.
"Each time I performed movement along the spiral I would have to vary the choreography so it was not completely repetitive," she said. "I was constrained to the dance floor because in reality the spiral goes to infinity."
Kirby said that through PBA’s dance program and its director, Dr. Kathleen Klein, she has been given many opportunities to teach dance, which she enjoys. She presently teaches dance to children after school.
In January, she will work for the Palm Beach County school district, where she will be responsible for developing a dance learning program and teaching children in grades K through 5, she said.