Watch: Joburg Ballet performs 'The Corona Suite' [video]

Joburg Ballet recently released a video of some of their dancers performing what they call 'The Corona Suite'.


After making waves with their bite-size videos and a beautiful video of senior soloist, Kitty Phetla performing a rain dance for the drought-stricken Western Cape back in 2017, Joburg Balet decided to share a "choreographic response to the coronavirus".

Translating proteins into music, and back


It's said that the dancers choreographed the dance to the "sound" of the virus which was created by Professor Markus J Buehler, a McAfee Professor of Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


Iain MacDonald, artistic director of Joburg Ballet said that the professor turned the coronavirus structure into music to better understand it. Buehler and researchers at MIT ultimately developed a system for converting the molecular structures of proteins, the basic building blocks of all living beings, into audible sound that resembles musical passages. Then, reversing the process, they can introduce some variations into the music and convert it back into new proteins never before seen in nature.


Although it's not quite as simple as humming a new protein into existence, the new system comes close. It provides a systematic way of translating a protein's sequence of amino acids into a musical sequence, using the physical properties of the molecules to determine the sounds. Although the sounds are transposed in order to bring them within the audible range for humans, the tones and their relationships are based on the actual vibrational frequencies of each amino acid molecule itself, computed using theories from quantum chemistry.


The team then used an artificial intelligence system to study the catalog of melodies produced by a wide variety of different proteins. They had the AI system introduce slight changes in the musical sequence or create completely new sequences, and then translated the sounds back into proteins that correspond to the modified or newly designed versions. With this process they were able to create variations of existing proteins.

Giving the virus "human form"


This in turn inspired the dancers of Joburg Ballet in South Africa to give "human form to the virus" while in lockdown. Watch the video by following the link down here:

Joburg Ballet's choreographic response to the Corona Virus. Thank you to the dancers for their work on the project….Posted by Joburg Ballet on Wednesday, June 17, 2020