A Math Professor Uses Circle Dance to Serve the Community

CIRCLE DANCESAINT JOHNSBURY-She is a mathematics professor who has taught at Lyndon State College for 27 years, and has always enjoyed teaching her students. Outside of the classroom, however, she teaches something completely different: dancing. Daisy McCoy learns and performs circle dancing with other members of the local community in her spare time. McCoy believes these different subjects to share a connection and both equally contribute to one’s wellbeing. In her opinion, it’s not always one thing or the other to be a well-rounded person. Different parts of your life contribute to making you more whole. She says math and arts are connected, and pure math actually is art. “I went to a workshop, and I just loved this dance! And nobody over in Vermont knew this dance. I knew I was gonna dance. I had to teach them. So I practice and practice, so I learned it so I can teach it, and it became my dance.” Daisy said, “and some people said music uses the same part of the brain as mathematics. I don't make music but I do enjoy the music when I dance.”

Circle dancing is kind of an extension of an international dance. It has some traditional dances and some new dances that have been recently choreographed to all sorts of music that come from around the world. 

Music is the key part of circle dancing. It can come from anywhere and represent different parts of life. Daisy’s choice of music feels very mysterious, religious, and slow, but she says it is not relevant to specific religions, but were more like a meditational style. The lyrics have meanings about nature and the power of it. One song is called “Yeemova”. The movements would follow the meaning of the lyrics: sun and sky, sea and stone. When people play it, they should imagine the meaning of the lyrics, and mimic them to make acts. Most of the music comes from different countries, and they mostly represent different cultures. The Native American songs talk about “Mother Nature”: peaceful but also solemn. A South American song talked about people celebrating a harvest. “Sometime we follow the traditional dance as other folk dances, and sometimes we just take a piece of the music that we really like,” said Daisy.

One of the participants, Rhonda Korol, shared her feeling about circle dancing with McCoy. “Circle dance is cool. You feel connected, you feel peaceful, and you feel full energy. Mostly, I like it because the music is all beautiful. It connected all those different cultures, and all those different times. You could imagine people back in the 1800s, doing this like beautiful, mystical dance. You know, like around a fire. You can just transport yourself to all these different cultures, and times, and the life history.” She said Daisy got her to love circle dance because of Daisy’s patience and kindness when teaching.

Daisy says she was the first one to share this dance to the community. She did not know who else teaches or performs circle dancing in Vermont, she had to teach it herself. Every song has their own movements, so she even wrote little note cards to remind her about the acts. “It’s wonderful to have a group, and as we said there are no mistakes, only variations. It’s not about perfection and showing, it’s about dancing for yourself and dancing and being part of the community.”