When the sequencing of the human genome was announced to the public, choreographer Liz Lerman was one of many who asked what this would mean for our future and the future of our children. To help answer these questions, she decided to make a multimedia piece – that became Ferocious Beauty: Genome.
She began collaborating with scientists across the country who investigate genes and their function – at Wesleyan University, we began to work with Liz Lerman in our science classrooms using various movement-based tools developed by the Dance Exchange both to teach science and to encourage our students to think creatively about science – an exploration that has met with great success. The project changed us all in ways we had not predicted: The scientists found new ways to think about and teach science, and the dancers came to understand more about how the scientists see the world.
With support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Center for Creative Research (with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), we are now taking these experiments into middle and high school classrooms, with the help of video clips from Ferocious Beauty: Genome, as well as a toolbox of methods from the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange.
To enrich and share this process, we have created Web Modules on different genetics-based themes so that classroom educators can explore this approach to teaching biology. Liz Lerman and her collaborators discuss the project here.