The role of science in the world of art

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The role of science in the world of art.

This essay will discuss the connection between art and science; the roles that science has already played in the world of art and the roles it has not, but could possibly play.  It will also discuss the positive and negative reasons in having this connection.

To explore the role that science plays within the world of art (specifically dance), it must first be explored as to what science and art are.

Through studying five different English dictionaries, science is found to have been defined in various ways, some in more elaborative ways than others.  The general consensus is that science is described as ‘knowledge’ (Klein, 1967:1397).  Other dictionaries are more specific, for example, in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, science is defined as ‘knowledge about the world, especially based on examining, testing, and proving facts’ (Longman, 2005:1467) and in Collins Cobuild English Dictionary, science is defined as

‘the study of the nature and behaviour of natural things and the knowledge we obtain about them ... science is the study of some aspect of human behaviour’

(Collins, 1995:1485).  

Collins Today’s English Dictionary also states that ‘anything which is studied in a systematic way can be called a science’ (Collins, 1995:727).  

Therefore, science, in the context of the world of art (dance) is interpreted to mean gaining knowledge about the body to enhance performance.  This is something discovered through research, testing and analysing.

Still referring to definitions from English dictionaries, art too, is found to be explained in several ways.  It is a ‘skill’ (Klein, 1966:108), where an artist would paint a picture, or where a choreographer would create a dance.  This links into another definition, where art is ‘a way of expressing ideas, for example in a painting, dance, piece of writing etc...’ (Longman, 2005:70), similarly, in the Collins Cobuild English Dictionary,

‘the arts are activities such as music, painting, literature, cinema, and dance, which people can take part in for enjoyment, or to create works which express serious meanings or ideas of beauty’

(Collins, 1995:82).


‘if you describe an activity as an art form, you mean that it is concerned with creating objects, works or performances that are beautiful or have a serious meaning’

(Collins, 1995:83).

As a result, art, in a dance context, is interpreted to mean a skill that an individual possesses that makes them a ‘dancer’.  This dancer needs to also possess further skill to become a ‘performer’ and it is the dancer that performs in a performance that produces ‘art’.

Science and art already work hand in hand.  A functioning body is required in order to dance, and to produce this, science has already educated the world of art to some extent in nutrition and body management.  

It would appear that neither can exist without the other.  ‘Science’ needs ‘art’, for if there were no art, what would science research in a performance aspect?  This is for the reason that nutrition, body management etc… all link in with a performance aspect.  Science is continually testing and examining the body, and so if there were no art (in a performance context), what would the point be in educating dancers on body management and structural issues?  Dance then, would be purely for fun, with no performance.  ‘Art’ (in a performance context) needs ‘science’ in order to continue.  Without science educating dancers in nutrition, body management, injury prevention, sustaining energy etc, art would have no dancers, and without any dancers, there would be no ‘art’.

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As aforementioned, Collins describe science as ‘anything which is studied in a systematic way’ (Collins, 1995:727), therefore, this highlights the possibility that art is actually a science, as in the dance world critics are there to analyse and review a performance.  However, in Collins Today’s English Dictionary, art subjects are deemed to be ‘literature, languages, and history, rather than science or engineering’ (Collins, 1995:42).  In addition, the arts are ‘subjects that you can study that are not scientific’ (Collins, 1995:727), which suggests the two are not linked.

Referring to the connections that have already been made with ...

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