Folk dance provides an enticing platform for science communication. In a contra dance, as in other folk dances, steps are relatively simple to learn, and they are repeated over and over again to music. This allows for interactive participation as well as repetitive reinforcement of concepts.

In 2016, I developed a series contra dances to illustrate key concepts in photosynthesis. The whole series includes contra dances illustrating light-dependent reactions and the Calvin Cycle, as well as CAM and C4 photosynthesis. Folk dancers at the Athens Folk Music and Dance Society welcomed me to present the dance at their monthly gathering. The dance has also been presented as a workshop at the Interdisciplinary Research Conference.  In August 2016, I hosted a full workshop at the Ecological Society of America Meeting.

Dance videos and explanations for the light-dependent reactions and Calvin Cycle are available on Vimeo. More detailed instructional materials are available on request.

Walkthrough for “Light Reaction” contra dance from atinytornado on Vimeo.

“Light Reaction,” a contra dance about photosynthesis from atinytornado on Vimeo.