FRIB sponsors unique 'Of Equal Place: Isotopes in Motion' event

07 October 2022

FRIB is sponsoring a unique dance performance and variety of activities that explore dance and science. “Of Equal Place: Isotopes in Motion” incorporates dance, video, and physics to create an exhilarating and engaging performance at 1 p.m. on Sunday, 6 November. After the performance at the Wharton Center, audience members can tour FRIB and participate in several activities focused on dance and science.

Tickets are on sale now at the official Wharton Center Ticket Office, online at, or by calling (517) 432-2000 or 1-800-WHARTON.

This project is a mass collaboration between FRIB, the Wharton Center for Performing Arts at Michigan State University (MSU), Dance Exchange, Happendance, Women and Minorities in Physical Sciences (WaMPS) community members, and students from Everett High School and Dwight Rich School of the Arts. FRIB is sponsoring this event to attract non-science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students to FRIB to reach populations that don’t normally identify with STEM.

Dance Exchange’s intergenerational company will partner with local youth and artists from Happendance Dance Studio in Lansing, Michigan. Dancers will range from ages 10 to 70, and together they will harness the power of creativity and inquiry through dance to connect, learn, and create. 

“Of Equal Place: Isotopes in Motion” delves into research being done at FRIB while exploring themes that resonate in both nuclear physics and dance: stability and instability, measurement, acceleration, fragmentation, and navigating mystery. The performance highlights the contributions of youth, women, and people of color in science through a cast diverse in age, race, and cultural backgrounds.

Attendees will be able to participate in a number of activities following the performance, including:

  • A hands-on nuclear science workshop to build models of rare radioactive isotopes
  • A tour of the FRIB Laboratory to see the research vaults where rare isotopes are measured
  • A panel question-and-answer session about careers in nuclear science
  • A demonstration area with an array of scientific activities
  • An interactive exploration of the science and dance concepts from the performance
  • The Dance Exchange workshop

Dance Exchange, based in Maryland, is a nonprofit dance organization that creates groundbreaking dance works that expand who gets to dance, where dance happens, and why dance matters.

Dance Exchange’s Founding Artistic Director Liz Lerman and current Executive Artistic Director Cassie Meador have cultivated the company’s unique intergenerational ensemble into a leading force in contemporary dance. Lerman earned a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in 2002 for “demonstrating that dance can build upon people’s experience to recreate their connections across ages and communities.” A source of inspiration for “Of Equal Place: Isotopes in Motion” is Lerman’s 2010 piece “The Matter of Origins,” which addresses physics and the inner workings of matter. This inspired FRIB to collaborate with Dance Exchange on an original work that explores nuclear science. Dancers will physically represent the scientific data and language occurring at FRIB.

“As you watch, resist the temptation to feel like you are not ‘getting it,’” said co-creators Keith Thompson and Elizabeth Johnson. They hope this work will engage audiences who might be new to watching dance and/or new to thinking about physics. “Watching a dance is a creative process, much like the creative process of scientific research: you set up an experiment. You observe. From those observations, you collect data. Then, there’s the key process of interpreting the data in a way that makes sense to you. Notice what you connect to, what meaning you are making, and let your own discoveries unfold.”

“Of Equal Place: Isotopes in Motion” is sponsored by MSU Federal Credit Union.

Michigan State University (MSU) operates the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) as a user facility for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC), supporting the mission of the DOE-SC Office of Nuclear Physics. Hosting what is designed to be the most powerful heavy-ion accelerator, FRIB enables scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes in order to better understand the physics of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and applications for society, including in medicine, homeland security, and industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of today’s most pressing challenges. For more information, visit

The Wharton Center, Michigan’s largest performing arts venue, hosts nearly 1,000 events per year, ranging from Broadway shows, rock concerts, classical music, to student productions.