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Thursday, July 14

The mathematics and a (short) history of square dancing

Musical and Mathematical Design of Square Dance Singing Calls Part 1 - Guy L. Steele Jr.

A computer scientist puts square dancers through their paces and adds fascinating history about square dancing --
Published by Ron Hoffmann at YouTube on Feb 8, 2013
Square dancing in the modern style is an interesting mixture of physical movement and mental activity as dancers react in real time to whatever the square dance caller asks them to do from moment to moment. There are mental challenges for the caller, too, to take a popular song you might know—but never think of as a square-dance song—and weave the names of square dance calls into the lyrics so that it all flows and times out properly, both musically and choreographically.
Concepts from computer science as well as musicology are helpful in organizing solutions to this multidimensional optimization problem.
This talk will demonstrate a variety of singing calls with live dancers and discuss how such songs can be put together so as to keep the dancers moving while also "telling the story." It will also introduce and demonstrate the "language" of square dancing, and consider it as a kind of programming language for dance movement.
Guy L. Steele Jr. (MIT PhD '80, ACM Fellow, IEEE Fellow, National Academy of Engineering) is the co-inventor (with MIT Prof. Gerald Jay Sussman) of the Scheme programming language and wrote the first Scheme compiler. He is a co-author of books about C, Common Lisp, High Performance Fortran, and Java, as well as The Hacker's Dictionary (MIT Press). He designed the original EMACS command set and was the first person to port TeX. He currently leads the Programming Language Research Group at Oracle Labs.

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