2022 Honorable Mention – Ritu Somayaji
resistance: an exploration of cancer stem cells through movement
Samba, ballet, kabuki, salsa…..dance is a universal art form that can convey countless emotions. But what about dance and science? In this multimedia project titled “Resistance”, spoken word and classical Indian dance were integrated in a video to explain the concept of cancer stem cells and chemotherapy resistance. This project was choreographed, edited and recorded by Ritu Somayaji, an undergraduate student majoring in Biochemistry.
In this multimedia project titled “Resistance”, spoken word and classical Indian dance were integrated in a video to explain the concept of cancer stem cells and chemotherapy resistance. The video is broken up into four different segments. The first segment, “genesis”, starts by looking into a microscope and at an individual cell that is portrayed through a dancer. The voiceover describes how cancer starts in a single cell and overtime, rapidly replicates and accumulates to form tumors. To portray this, the dancer starts off still and contained and slowly increases movement and rises from the floor to reflect the growing nature of cancer. In the second segment, “cancer stem cells: the odd ones out”, the voiceover makes the distinction between cancer cells and cancer stem cells. Through multiple video panels and different movements, the dancer illustrates the diversity of cells in a cancer tumor. Additionally, the repetitive movements overlayed with one another symbolize how cancer stem cells are able to self-renew. In the third segment, “resistance”, the voiceover describes what chemotherapy resistance is and how cancer stem cells play a key role in this resistance. The dancer starts off this segment by covering their face to show avoidance and resistance. In the next clip, there are multiple panels to designate different cells and the use of color is to represent that some cells die off with chemotherapy but some survive. The final segment, “next chapter”, brings the viewer back to the laboratory and to the current research being done today. The video was filmed in the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History and the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.