Joel Miller & Dance Your PhD

Screen Shot 2012-04-19 at 20.31.44

Screen Shot 2012-04-19 at 20.31.44

Dancing your Ph.D involves choosing aspects of your research to communicate, devising a storyline and throwing down the hottest dance moves you can muster. There may be any number of reasons to enter – to share your research with the world, to entertain, or just for the joy of being creative – but I entered the Dance Your Ph.D Contest to get friends and family together working on something fun. Patricia Wood (a contemporary dancer) and Kaylin Miller (a circus arts practitioner) lent physicality to the competing forms of titanium, while Sara Fontaine (a salsa instructor) offered grace as Bone Woman. Bela Inkster (from Perth indi-electropop act The Transients) was happy to supply music for the cause.

If my entry in Dance Your Ph.D had resulted in just a video and some laughs, it would have been worthwhile.  However, in many ways, winning the Dance Your Ph.D Contest was a life-altering event. My research has since featured in newspapers, blogs and radio worldwide. It also allowed me to go to TEDxBrussels and take part in a day of brilliant talks and inspiring ideas. A highlight – John Bohannon, Carl Flink and the Black Label Movement’s stunning live performance explored communication, politics and powerpoint slides with an eloquence through and punctuated by dance. Linking science to dance, this performance introduced the audience to Dance Your PhD.

Receiving the award for Dance Your PhD on stage was a huge honour.  With a late change to the program (and following John’s performance), the video was shown on the main screen to more than 2000 attendees.  In the following break, numerous people were keen to discuss my research and video, and I was fortunate to gain a number of valuable contacts. Drawing upon this experience, I am now organising a large-scale TEDx event in my home city of Perth.

Personally though, the most satisfying result was how people responded to the video – simple comments on blog sites from people who enjoyed the video and said that they’d laughed or learned something new.

Fun and sharing is, after all, the very essence of Dance Your PhD.  If you have (or are doing) a science-based PhD, all you really need is the ability to imagine your research as dance.  And when it’s done… it is pretty sweet to have a video explaining the answer to that timeless question: “So, what’s your PhD about?”

Joel Miller

Winner Dance Your PhD 2011

www.tedxperth.com