Muscle Memory In Dancing And Coding

While it has only been about six months since I shared a story about the Philadelphia based project DanceLogic which teaches girls to code through choreography, I saw another piece recently on the Dance Magazine site and wanted to call attention again because it is such a great connector of art and STEM.  There have been so many efforts to create a bridge between art and science that feel crammed together, but the way this program is structured makes the melding feel near effortless. (Though I don’t doubt there was as much perspiration as inspiration involved with the developing a successful process even before they started dancing.)

I would encourage reading my previous post based on a Chalkbeat article because it discusses mentorship and leadership outcomes from the program.  Dance Magazine has a bit more detail about the structure and process of the program.

During one of our recent classes, the girls were assigned to create a dance based off their knowledge and progress of the coding techniques. The coding suggestions were written on the board, and then we assembled the codes into actual choreography.

An example would be “move forward, toggle switch,” and the choreography entailed this demonstration. The girls had the opportunity to perform their creative code dance number for their parents during our midterm presentation.

I especially appreciated how they quoted DanceLogic co-founder Franklyn Athias about learning through failure and how developing muscle memory was important to both dancing and coding.

“Before long, the muscle memory kicks in and the student forgets how hard it was before. Coding is the same thing. Learning the syntax of coding is not a natural thing. Repetition is what makes you good at it. After learning the first programming language, the students can learn other programming languages because it becomes much easier.”

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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