Kalamazoo Section of the American Chemical Society

We are a dynamic and visionary organization committed to improving people’s lives in our community through the transforming power of chemistry.  We strive to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Kalamazoo, Allegan and Van Buren counties.

Chemistry and Culture: Elements of Dance

Friday 01 November 2013

This event has already taken place. For a list of upcoming events, see our events page.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
314 S Park St
19:00 - Check-in, refreshment and open dance
19:30 - Welcome remarks and showcase dances
20:15 - Open dance, activities and prizes
22:00 - Conclusion

A social event with exhibit on “Molecular Foundation of Movement”

This is a modification of last years wildly successful Elements of Dance. The details and results can be found on the event page

Download the event flyer here [PDF] and the event program here [PDF].

  • Free Admission
  • Free Snacks
  • Free Dance Lesson
  • Dance Showcases
  • Puzzles – Win Prizes!
  • Music: Ballroom, Latin, Swing & Country
  • Partner not necessary – No dress code
  • Open to the general public

The Exhibit

With "Molecular Foundation of Movement" we will connect atoms and molecules to exercise science. Where is the chemistry? Well, your muscles won't work unless you have iron, calcium and magnesium for example. Attendees can win a prize by completing a puzzle that is related to the information given in the exhibit.

The exhibit includes a special tribute to the work of Dr. Alfred Bader, entrepreneur, fine arts collector and philanthropist.

Event Program

There will be showcase dances with chemists, open dances, and line dances in the auditorium, among others. The exhibit and refreshments will be set up in the lobby. Everybody is asked to check in upon arrival. The full program can be downloaded here [PDF].

Interested in studying up before the big day? Here are some videos demonstrating the group line dances that will take place. Don't worry, the steps will be described during the event as well. The event is one day after Halloween. Feel free to wear your Sunday best or come in a Halloween costume.


Attendees can win in several ways

  1. Come early enough to enter a drawing for a door prize.
  2. Fill out the puzzle that is based on the exhibit in the lobby titled "Molecular Foundation of Movement".
  3. If you are a chemists you can enter a special drawing to win a free pass to a local ballroom dance.

This year's prizes are:

  • Trial membership to a local athletic club
  • KACS T-Shirts
  • AAAS T-Shirts
  • Elemental pins
  • Free pass to a local ballroom dance
  • Water bottles
  • Meg-A-Mole

Thank you Donors!

This event is made possible through generous donations from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Alfred Bader Fine Arts, Aldrich Chemistry, VWR, Western Michigan University, and the WMU Business Technology and Research Park.

Elements of Dance Logo

Why Chemistry and Culture?

Chemists are not just experts in their field but are also interested in art, history, cooking, baking, brewing, gardening and exercise, among others. “Elements of Dance” invites all chemists, chemistry enthusiasts and the general public to enjoy ballroom dancing. Future “Chemistry and Culture” themes will address topics like “Art Conservation”, “Forgery”, “Cooking” and “Gardening”, for example.

The goals of the "Chemistry and Culture" series are...

  • To offer a social networking opportunity for members of the Kalamazoo Local Section of the American Chemical Society (KACS) and the public
  • To educate the general public about the goals and activities of KACS
  • To highlight the connections between "chemistry" and "culture"
  • To encourage student participation
  • To instill an appreciation for how chemistry contributes to the world in many ways
  • To forge ties with the local community

Chemists who have looked beyond their field

Alfred Bader (Austrian-born Canadian chemist)
Founded the Aldrich Chemical Company, which later became Sigma-Aldrich Corporation as one of the world’s leading supplier of research chemicals. He founded the company’s journal Aldrichimica Acta in 1968. He is a philanthropist and a life-long fine arts collector. His artwork is displayed on the front cover of the company’s chemical catalogs and its journal. He authored two autobiographies titled Adventures of a Chemist Collector and Chemistry & Art.
Robert G. Bergman (University of California - Berkeley)
Made seminal contributions in inorganic and organometallic chemistry. He enjoys ballroom dancing in his free time.
Carl Djerassi (Emeritus Austrian-American Chemist at Stanford University)
Co-inventor of the hormonal birth control pill and has published several “science-in-fiction” novels. Together with Roald Hoffmann he authored the play “Oxygen” in 1999.
Roald Hoffmann (Polish-American Chemist at Cornell University)
1981 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and a co-host of the TV series The World of Chemistry. He writes poetry and presents the monthly series Entertaining Science at a New York City café, which explores the connections between science and the arts.

Contact Elke Schoffers with questions.

Event Report

By Elke Schoffers

With Photos by Denis Billen (DB) of DB Family Photography DJ and by Roxana Manta-Bielanski (RM)

The connection between chemistry and culture, especially chemistry and dance may not be obvious to everybody. However, there are some interesting aspects to consider when contemplating these combinations. John Bohannon, a biologist and science journalist, has collaborated with AAAS to create the Dance Your PhD competition. It is in response to a dreaded situation that scientists encounter whey they try to explain their research to laymen. How does one respond to &lqduo;So, what’s your PhD about?” For the fourth year running, PhD scientists can compete to win up to $1,000, and they are required to dance. Bohannon has also performed at TEDx Brussels. With the help of the Black Label Movement dance troupe he proposed to replace Powerpoint software with live dancers. Zafra M. Lerman of the Institute for Science Education and Science Communication thinks that the “arts can play a valuable role in reversing [a negative] public perception” and help “improve the public understanding of chemistry” (Chemistry: An Inspiration for Theatre and Dance Chemical Education International, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2005). A notable example is the play Oxygen, written by Carl Djerassi and Nobel laureate Roald Hoffmann. And “Nobel laureate John Planyi has referred to molecular movement as ‘the dance of the molecules’”.

On November 1, over 200 people were curious enough to find out about dancing chemists when KACS connected atoms and molecules to exercise science in the lobby, while offering showcase dances, line dances and open dances in the auditorium of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts during Chemistry and Culture: Elements of Dance. Mayor Bobby Hopewell was the "Surprise Celebrity MC".

Many chemists dressed in elegant evening attire and joined local ballroom dancers and the general public. The lobby featured refreshments and several displays as part of an exhibit that explained exercise chemistry:

  • Amino Acids, Peptides, Proteins, and Endorphins
  • Doping in Sports
  • Steroids
  • Chemicals Used in Sports Attire
  • Chemistry, Body Odor and Pheromones

Participants were able to win prizes. For example, correct crossword puzzles, based on the science in the exhibit, were entered into a drawing for trial gym memberships, T-shirts, Meg-A- Moles, and dance passes, among others.

There was also a computer set up which played a YouTube video of “Chemists Can DANCE! The first ever dancing periodic table of elements” , which was produced by ACS. A demo showed how one can isolate iron from cereal. Last but not least, there was a display as a special tribute to Dr. Alfred Bader, founder of Aldrich Chemicals and an avid art collector and philanthropist. This event was made possible through generous donations by AAAS, WMU, Aldrich Chemistry, Alfred Bader Fine Arts, and WMU-BTR. It was also a collaboration of KACS with the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Southwest Michigan Ballroom Dance and the Kalamazoo Chapter of USA Dance.

Drs. Isabelle and Alfred Bader

Drs. Isabelle and Alfred Bader
(Chemist, Entrepreneur, Art Connoisseur & Philanthropist)

Posters and refreshments
Posters and refreshments

The KIA lobby featured exercise chemistry posters and refreshments, among others (RM).

cupid shuffle instructions
Cupid shuffle audience

Chemistry students began the Cupid shuffle (left, RM), before the audience joined in (right, DB).

Poster session

Sarah reading the display to fill out the crossword puzzle.

Showcase performers

Showcases performers, from left: Gus Guzinski and dance partner Jenny Grunberg, a Kalamazoo dentist, and Elke Schoffers with Art Downey, a professional dance instructor; shown with celebrity MC mayor Bobby Hopewell (right, DB).