excerpt from Liz Lerman's Hiking the Horizontal

Liz’s book, Hiking the Horizontal (due out Spring 2011 from Wesleyan University Press) is now available for pre-order on Amazon! (click here to order your copy). To whet your appetite, I’ll be periodically posting short essays from the book on our blog. Enjoy!

Fueling the Imagination, by Liz Lerman

I was visiting with my friend, the biologist Bonnie Bassler at Princeton, when she took me down the hall to meet her colleague, Eric Wieschaus, a Nobel laureate who works with fruit flies.  By that time my dance Ferocious Beauty: Genome had already premiered and I was eagerly fixing it.  I was particularly interested in the part we called the “fugue” because of its complex relationship between video, text, and movement.  The subject of this particular section is the myriad ways in which science and artistic research overlap.   It starts with the scientist Aaron Terkowitz from the University of Chicago saying, “How do I ask myself a question?” followed by five minutes of dance and media that addresses just that query.

So I asked Dr. Wieshaus how he asks himself a question. And he responded, “I am fueled by my ignorance.”

The precision of his answer thrilled me.  “Nobel Laureate Fueled By His Ignorance” would make a great headline, I told him.  Artists and scientists have a keen understanding that not knowing is fuel for the imagination rather than fuel for humiliation. There is nothing to hide.

About Emily Macel Theys

Emily (Communications and Development Director) joined the administrative team at the Dance Exchange in January 2010. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Emily received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Allegheny College, and her Master of Fine Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College. Formerly the associate editor at Dance Magazine, Emily’s dance writing has been published in Dance Magazine, Dance Spirit, Dance Teacher, and the Washington Post among others. She is also an avid baker.