I was introduced to Deborah Jowitt and Margaret Hamilton today.
Introduced in a virtual way that is.
My introduction to Deborah was through Sally Gardner’s post in The Conversation. Deborah is visiting Australia. I met Margaret in The Three Fingered Fox’s post on Medium.
Sally provided a fascinating description of Deborah’s work as a dance critic.
I am intrigued to learn how we can improve the ways we write about performance in sport. Sally’s report of Deborah’s work contained these observations:
Jowitt was, and remains, committed to writing about the dance aspect of dance performance: how it communicates through the materials of movement, the nuances of style, and the way these are handled by the performers.
Jowitt’s distinctive style also encoded an ethic of reviewing that was generous, intimate, avowedly subjective, and “not in the business of rating and ranking”. This didn’t mean that she was never critical: rather she was incisive.
One paragraph, in particular, caught my attention:
Dance performances are too often seen as a series of “one-offs”, without knowledge of their relation to a whole historical field of works and processes. A dedicated and informed reviewer can help an audience to both remember what a work was like, in its sensuous particularity, and to place the performance they have seen within a context of other works.
I think this discussion of context is a very important guide for anyone interested in developing a narrative of performance. I think it helps us to contemplate “the qualities and effects of a dance’s dancing” on a sport environment.
Margaret Hamilton, I discovered was the lead software engineer for Project Apollo. The photograph at the top of this post is Margaret with her code for the Apollo program. The Three Fingered Fox notes that Margaret:
was all of 31 when the Apollo 11 lunar module landed on the moon, running her code. (Apollo 11 was able to land at all only because she designed the software robustly enough to handle buffer overflows and cycle-stealing.)
As I think about the gendered nature of performance analysis and sport analytics, I led the conclusion to the post:
The engineers weren’t all boys with crewcuts, short sleeve oxford shirts, and narrow black ties. That’s just a fairy tale they told for a while.
Beyond our boundaries
Over coffee this morning, thanks to two great links I managed to meet and learn more about Deborah and Margaret.
My post is a way of sharing this encounter and inviting our community to look beyond our discipline boundaries.