By: Piper Anderson


How does dance relate to the physics of science?

Newton's First Law of Motion:

"An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force."

In order to start dancing, as in moving, you must follow Newtons First Law of Motion. When you are standing still, the force against the floor is balanced. As soon as you exert more force against the floor, the force becomes unbalanced. You must move in the opposite direction of the force.

The picture below shows the unbalanced force allowing the dancers to move across the dance floor.

external image dancing.jpg

Newton's Second Law of Motion:

"Acceleration is produced when a force acts on a mass. The greater the mass (of the object being accelerated) the greater the amount of force needed (to accelerate the object)."

You will also use Newton's Second Law of Motion, while dancing. When turning in a pirouette or forte, you accelerate by rotating around and around. You also depend on your body mass while turning in a pirouette or forte. You must be able to equal out your body mass when rotating on one foot.

Here is an example of a girl doing fortes into pirouettes. This shows how the girl is equaling out her body mass when rotating on one foot.

Newton's Third Law of Motion:

"For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action."

While dancing you will also use Newtons Third Law of Motion. When partner dancing, the dancers make it look like they're just moving across the dance floor, but that's not really the case. Hopefully, you're not just relying on your partner, but the force of the floor pushing against your feet is propelling you along.

The picture below shows how the dancers are giving off an equal and opposite re-action allowing the dancers to propell across the dance floor.

external image ballroomdancers.jpg

Friction, Force and Momentum:

  • Friction is the rubbing of one object or surface against another.

  • Force is the push, characterized by a magnitude (how hard) and a direction.

  • Momentum is the property of a moving body that determines the length of time required to bring it to rest when under the action of a constant force or moment.

In dance you use friction, force and momentum. While rotating in a pirouette or forte, the friction between your foot and the floor determines how fast or slow you are going to rotate. Force changes your momentum when rotating in a pirouette or forte. The harder you push your foot against the floor, the more rapidly your momentum changes. The longer you push your foot against the floor, the greater the total change in momentum.

The picture below is an example of momentum taking place while rotating in pirouettes and fortes.

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Gravity and Torque:

  • Gravity is a force that exists among all material objects in the universe.

  • Torque is an "off center" force which can cause something to spin.

In dance you use gravity and torque. Gravity is used in all dance moves, but it takes a huge part in jumps. Gravity is the only force acting on a dancer in mid-air. Torque is used in all rotating dance moves, including pirouettes and fortes. Torque is what causes you to rotate.

Here is an example of gravity acting on a dancer in mid-air.


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