Dance and Design, this is revolution

March 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm 2 comments

Pic: CM [Aleta teaching students to improvise and flock, 2012]

I have always been a wannabe contemporary dancer, but always stayed in the basic-amateur side. But really, never thought this kind of art could relate to design in such a smooth way. This, until I met Aleta Hayes at while doing my research at Stanford Uni’s CDR. She made a whole session of improvisation with the design students from the Needfinding course at the DSchool. This is one of the courses that, thanks to Anne Fletcher and Michael Barry, I am working with for my design-anthropology doctoral research. Throughout a series of exercises, which for the first time DIDN’T SEEM CHEESY AT ALL [sometimes consultancies love to take over these exercises but without hiring the right people], she demonstrated the power of empathy and leadership. Leadership through flocking exercises: “… try to become like the people you are working with…”, which is how we commonly learn a choreography… and Empathy: certain exercises that “make you take over others people’s quality...”


Aleta Hayes, performer and Stanford lecturer, opened a whole new area in my mind. And I really mean it when I say it wasn’t cheesy, it made sense, just said by her in the way she said it sounded like easy-adoptable-theory. And even though I am working with some aspects of choreography for analyzing team performance, I had never thought to use dance in the ways she presented.
Video: TED X Brussels
She also showed this video of TED X Brussels [it had to be here, the only place where a circle of my friends, including my roommate, were contemporary dancers] where John Bohannon introduces the question: What if we used dance instead of PowerPoint? More than being a beautiful proposal, it poses the possibilities of getting out of the screen and exploring the possibilities of new tools and canvases. What if we even danced our PhD dissertations? I bet my own school here in the States, wouldn’t be ready for that.


Entry filed under: Design Thinking, Educacion, Media, Methods.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. alexandria  |  March 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    I was doing some reading on tangible interaction, and came across this article called “Move to get moved: a search for methods, tools and knowledge to design for expressive and rich movement-based interaction”

    On page 6 the article talks about “The choreography of interaction”
    It made me think of this post!

    • 2. constanzamiranda  |  March 26, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      Thank you for the reference Alexandria!



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contact + citing (CC license)

Constanza Miranda PhD(c) design.anthro
* Currently @ DILAB
* Ex.VR @ Stanford's Center for Design Research [DesignXLab]
* Ex.Instructor @ PUC Chile [Design+Engineering]
Use citations ¡Citar es ético!
Creative Commons License
Design for Social Innovation initiative by Constanza Miranda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at