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Karl Schaffer

Co-Artistic Director (Karl Schaffer)


Where Patterns Collide: Dance and Mathematics

October 4, 2023 at 7:05:00 PM
Eagle Theater
Karl Schaffer

Math, Arts

Choreographer and mathematician Karl Schaffer believes that the creative process is the fundamental fuel that drives human achievement across disciplines.
Shape and geometry,
Pattern and symmetry,
Design and structure,
And a reverence for elegant solutions,
he will demonstrate the surprising connections between mathematics and dance, and illuminate the larger questions of how the artistic mind fuels the analytical mind and vice-versa. Joined by professional dancer (and scientist by training) Laurel Shastri, the two will highlight these ideas with engaging visuals, performance excerpts, and playful audience interactions. They will also focus on the ways these seemingly divergent disciplines inspire each other and even address relevant, current topics.

Meet the Speaker:

Professional dancer and choreographer Karl Schaffer holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and for 30 years has both taught mathematics at De Anza College and co-directed the Santa Cruz-based dance company MoveSpeakSpin. Schaffer and co-director Erik Stern are on the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Teaching Artist Roster, travel frequently sharing their math and dance integration methods on stage and in the classroom and have performed throughout North America and internationally. Schaffer publishes widely on dance and mathematics and is directing a California Arts Council two-year grant to do professional development in these disciplines at the Watsonville Charter School of the Arts. Schaffer and company’s recent concerts include “Nevertheless She Persisted” about women mathematicians, “Pitter Pattern” about shape and geometry, and “Mosaic,” about culture and conflict in the Mideast.

A lifelong love of learning, science, and dance coalesced when Laurel Shastri (MS in Geology) became a professional dancer and teaching artist twenty-five years ago. For 17 years she served as company dancer, faculty, and Associate Director of Ballet Tennessee. As an independent teaching artist who connects science, dance, and language arts, she inspired thousands of students through arts education programs at Arts Council Santa Cruz County, Montalvo Arts Center, and Tennessee Art Commission. She has led well-received, interactive professional development workshops for teachers with Monterey Bay Area Math Project, Marion Cilker Conference for the Arts in Education, Watsonville Charter School for the Arts, and Arts Council Santa Cruz County Summer Arts Education Intensive. She teaches at Dancenter and has performed with MoveSpeakSpin for 11 years.

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