Lights! Camera! Action! The music begins and the dance troupe get into their rhythmic motions. But wait a minute—there’s more than just dance that is on display. They are doing something unique. While one group is able to magically sort numbers during their dance, the other group’s costumes light up and synchronize to the music!
It seems like dance doesn’t have much to do with computing, but 15-year-old Redmond High School sophomore Dhruv Kasarabada is defying the odds to do just that.
“Choreographing a dance is very similar to writing a computer program,” he said. “Just like a computer algorithm has a sequence of steps that need to be performed, so does dance. So what can be more fun than exploring the beauty of algorithms through dance!”
For over a year, Kasarabada has been teaching middle school and high school students various computing skills, like sorting algorithms and LED programming, and showcasing them through dance. His LED dance performance was recently screened at the historic North Bend Theater before an audience of over 150 people. The proceeds from all his teaching workshops and dance shows go to Sankara Healthcare Foundation—a nonprofit that aims to bring health and wellness to everyone. So far, he has raised over $3,000 and the fundraiser hours he put into this outside of school have helped him earn the Presidential Volunteer Service Award Gold medal.
“Art and science are like two sides of the same coin,” he said. In South Asia, dance is an art that is still mostly performed by girls, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is an area pursued by boys. However, each has their own benefits in today’s world. Dance has shown to have a positive effect on people suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety, while science and STEM subjects in general have lucrative career and job opportunities. By encouraging and teaching girls to code and boys to learn dance, students can get the benefits of both.
“My mission is to encourage a love for STEM and art in students at a young age so that we can all grow up to be mentally strong and creative thinkers, and make useful contributions to our society.”