Dance Your PhD

By Legal Eagle

Via Dave Bath, I have been alerted to this rather awesome concept in Science:

The dreaded question. “So, what’s your Ph.D. research about?” You could bore them with an explanation. Or you could dance.

That’s the idea behind “Dance Your Ph.D.” Over the past 3 years, scientists from around the world have teamed up to create dance videos based on their graduate research. This year’s contest, launched in June by Science, received 45 brave submissions.

Today, judges—including scientists, choreographers, and past winners—announced the finalists in four categories: physics, chemistry, biology, and social sciences. Each receives $500.

The judges will announce the winner next month at the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York City. But you can vote for your favorite now. We’ll reveal the victor—and our reader pick—on 19 October.

Does law qualify as social sciences? Is it too late to enter?! Damn, I think it’s too late.

As explanation for my enthusiasm, my thesis takes an interpretive analysis of the law. When I was practising my completion seminar paper in front of my poor long-suffering husband, he said of interpretive theory, “Is that like interpretive dance?” I then proceeded to do an interpretive dance to accompany my presentation, reducing him to hysterics. He dared me, no, he double-dared me to do it on the day. Unfortunately I chickened out (but it was so tempting).

I have actually been known to dance for my students. On the day I handed in my PhD, I did a dance of PhD victory to my class (with the balloon they give you as a prop). And then the other day, to illustrate the doctrine of tracing, I first pretended to be a sniffer dog, then I pretended to be a superhero wrestling my property off the recipient. I don’t mean to do these things beforehand; they just happen.

I think I could do a great dance about my PhD, the title of which is “Accounting for profit for breach of contract: A theoretical and practical justification”. Mind you, the way of representing disgorgement for wrongs could be a bit offputting for all and sundry…as Nick Ferrett has noted, perhaps I could take inspiration from the post about food poisoning? Any suggestions for a musical score? Maybe Pink Floyd’s Money? Or even Monty Python’s Money song?


  1. Posted September 19, 2010 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    You could always organize your own comp, which, being inaugural, could permit entries for theses from earlier years, and allow for greater participation and generation of interest in the first year.

    With the long history of theatrical performance by law students in uni reviews, and the theatrics sometimes used in court, there is greater chance of getting lawyers to honor the terpsichorean muse than archetypally shy scientists.

    You’d need, for fairness, separate categories… Constitutional law having much less opportunity for dramatic content than the almost classical ballet plots of murder, mayhem and retribution avalable to theses reviewing aspects of criminal law.

    Of course, you’d have to recuse yourself for /your/ category, or leave the winner to popular vote.

    And dare I say for some aspects of law and cases, it’s not so much analysis of the social sciences but exposition of antisocial arts.

  2. Peter Patton
    Posted September 19, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink


    Does your thesis cover usufructary rights? 🙂

  3. Movius
    Posted September 19, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I predict 45 different versions of ‘Interior Semiotics’

  4. Posted September 19, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Usufructuary, please. All those ‘U’s.

    Ah, pedants are we…

  5. TerjeP
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    My wife has a degree, a PhD and an MBA (with three kids I’m still not sure where she found the time). Maybe dance lessons are on the cards.

  6. Marks
    Posted September 23, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    It’s fun to really breach a contract

    And then account so merrily

    For each ……

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