Dr Ellie Cosgrave is a member of Scatter, our adult dance company, this is an extract of an interview originally published on UCL website.
You are part of contemporary dance company, Scatter. How has this influenced your work?
In order to propose alternative approaches to engineering design, it’s useful to look at how other creative industries tackle the design process. As a dancer, I naturally turned to choreography. At first glance, engineering and dance might not have much in common, but in fact, they share the need to contend with spatial requirements, the laws of physics, efficiency measures and budgetary constraints to create an ‘engineered’ product. Dance provides us with a series of comparable constraints to engineering practice, but the tools, methodology and training are very different. I wanted to explore how those tools could be applied and repurposed for the context of urban design.
Can you give an example?
Improvisation is a crucial technique in choreography. A choreographer will ask dancers to play around, under certain constraints (for example to always have your hands on the floor), in order to provoke opportunities for new movement. Imposing constraints is crucial, as it prevents the dancer retreating back to the same range of movements they are comfortable with and used to. It would be interesting to understand how the concept of improvisation could be applied in the engineering design process, and provide opportunities for engineers to think in different ways. For the moment, my work has involved interviewing choreographers to learn more about their creative processes, I hope this will lead to a series of workshops that bring together engineers and dancers.
Read the full interview with Dr. Ellie Cosgrove on the UCL website.