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Math dance: Erik Stern and Karl Schaffer at TEDxManhattanBeach

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Published on Nov 18, 2012

Karl Schaffer and Erik Stern founded the Dr. Schaffer and Mr. Stern Dance Ensemble in Santa Cruz, California in 1987. Drawing on their combined backgrounds in dance, mathematics, science, writing, music, theater, and athletics, they were drawn to uncommon fields as fodder for their choreography. The San Jose Mercury News dance critic Judith Green observed about one work, "It's one of the many witty pieces about things that are hard to dance about, except Karl Schaffer and Erik Stern don't seem to realize it." Their first collaborative work, 4-Footed Hamlet, was a danced/spoken reverent parody of Shakespeare's play. With renowned dance artist Gregg Lizenbery they made "Guy-o-saurs," a dance comparing the extinction of the dinosaurs with the fate of jocks. Their concert Dr. Schaffer and Mr. Stern, Two Guys Dancing About Math, revealed the wonderful connections between mathematics and dance, and has been performed nationally over 500 times. The Secret Life of Squares, was created with puzzle-master and artist Scott Kim, and Kim collaborated with them on their book Math Dance with Dr. Schaffer and Mr. Stern, which highlights the many ways to link math and dance in the classroom. The ensemble has performed throughout North America and recently in Hungary and Paris. The video includes short clips of "Shadowed Flight," created and performed with Gregg Lizenbery, and music by long-time collaborator Rick Walker. More information at http://www.mathdance.org.

They have enjoyed the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, and have given their workshops on math and dance to educators and artists around the world, including at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where they are Teaching Artists for the Partners in Education Program.

Karl Schaffer also teaches mathematics at De Anza College in Cupertino, California. His recent dance concert The Daughters of Hypatia: Circles of Mathematical Women celebrates the great women mathematicians and their struggles to create groundbreaking mathematics. He collaborated with NPR "Math Guy" Keith Devlin and world choral group Zambra on Harmonious Equations, which uses song, dance, and prose to expound on the most important and beautiful mathematical equations.

Erik Stern has degrees in Biology and Dance, and is a Professor of Dance at Weber State University in Ogden, California, where he is also the Director of the Honors Program. His dance-theatre work Demolition Derby, when a mind loses its license to drive follows a son through the scrapes and near misses of caring for his two parents with dementia. Demo Derby forged associations with medical researchers, Alzheimer's Associations, artists and the general public and was performed in New York City in 2008.

Choreography, text, and performance by Karl Schaffer and Erik Stern. Additional choreography and performance in video clips with Gregg Lizenbery (Shadowed Flight) and Scott Kim (The Flying Machine and Faux Paws). Music by Rick Walker. Costumes by Diane Neri

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

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