2 posts categorized "Music"


Dancing with Science

 By Caitlin Jennings, Communications Specialist, Society for Science & the Public

Madelyn Ho (Intel ISEF 2003, Intel STS Semifinalist 2004) dancing with Justin Kahan during Esplanade. Credit: Tom Caravaglia

“My most vivid memory of Intel ISEF was just the immense amount of knowledge and curiosity that filled the entire convention center,” Madelyn Ho (Intel ISEF 2003, Intel STS Semifinalist 2004) says. “There were so many interesting and well-developed projects that it was impossible to even begin learning about all of them.”


Madelyn made it to Intel ISEF with her award-winning research on protein adhesion, which was the result of many hours of hard work in the lab. However, in addition to her research, she also spent a lot of time during high school in the dance studio. She took both her passions to Harvard where she earned a B.A. in Chemical and Physical Biology and danced with the Harvard Ballet and Harvard Dance Program. 


“The same principles of science research of exploration and understanding are also found in dance,” Madelyn says. “I think that the discipline I gained from doing science research, the need to be detail-oriented, but still maintain perspective of the larger picture, are directly applied to my dancing, where I'm constantly refining my execution of choreography. But they're only meaningful in the context of the entire piece.”


She is currently a member of Taylor 2, a group with the Paul Taylor Dance Company that performs modern dance, teaches workshops, and does other community outreach across the country.  Madelyn recently told  the Theater Development Fund that working with students is one of her favorite parts of touring with Taylor 2: “What we do helps kids understand how to look at dance and find fulfillment from it, not be intimidated by it.They’ll be the next generation going to performances because of it.”  Madelyn is also looking out for the next generation of scientists and science enthusiasts.  “Keep asking questions!” she advises aspiring researchers. “Learn about anything and everything, but also find something that you're particularly interested in to learn about it more in-depth.”

For Web-Profiles---Madelyn-and-Justin-Kahan-Photo-by-Paul-B.-Goode.
Madelyn Ho (Intel ISEF 2003, Intel STS Semifinalist 2004) dancing with Justin Kahan. Credit: Paul B. Good


Madelyn plans to return to her roots in science, but that doesn’t mean she will leave dancing. “Dance and science are not exclusive passions of mine.  I have had the opportunity to combine them in an internship at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. After dancing, I plan to attend medical school and use my dance and science knowledge in dance medicine,” she says.  “I have always found a strong connection to the beauty of science.”



Things that go “PLOrk” in the Night

PLOrk-Image The stage is dark as the musicians wait for the director to give the signal to start.  The music starts up slowly, increasing in intensity. But instead of seeing wind instruments, and strings, drums or a piano, the audience sees bright, shining MACs in the darkness and the glow of LCD screens illuminating the faces of the musicians.

Daniel Trueman (ISEF 1986) cofounded this innovative ensemble, The Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk), with Perry Cook in 2005.  The orchestra, which recently won the 2010 MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition, creates a new kind of music using technology. 

“We don’t endeavor to emulate what traditional instruments can do, because traditional instruments are really good at that,” Dan says. “We are more interested in finding new kinds of music that are really indigenous to computing.  So the sounds sometimes are quite familiar but usually there is some aspect to it that is unfamiliar.”

The ensemble utilizes equipment such as sensors within laptops and Wii controllers to help the musicians create these sounds.  The music it produces ranges from scary stories to percussion jam sessions. This latest grant from the MacArthur Foundation will help the group make the instruments more portable.

While Dan completed a project on the structure of muscle proteins in high school, which earned him a spot at ISEF, and he studied physics in college, he has also always been interested in music.  “It might seem strange that I ended up as a composer and musician having focused on doing so much scientific stuff earlier, but I actually find it to be really quite relevant. All the work I did in science actually very much informs the work I do now in really positive ways,” He says, adding that it’s given him a sense of fearlessness as well.  “A lot of musicians are scared of math, or scared of technology subjects,” he says, but, due to his background, he has not been afraid to dig into new areas and combine music with technology.


Watch a Video on PLOrk.

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