Jeffrey Vinokur is a busy man.
Between his visits on The Today Show, The Queen Latifah Show, The View, Rachel Ray, shows on The Discovery Channel, as well as the show that jump started his career, America’s Got Talent, the Dancing Scientist has had much on his plate over the past few years. Not to mention his national tours, of which there’s been a couple. Oh, and then there’s his acquisition of a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s Degree in the same field from UCLA, where he is also currently pursuing his Doctorate’s in the subject.
With all the places he could have stopped for his latest tour, Vinokur chose Wauseon as one of his stops. Bringing his original blend of science and dance to the district’s high school auditorium, the expert chemist combined chemistry, physics, and popping for a highly entertaining hour of education.
Popping, for those unaware, is a unique style of dance, allowing one to use swift contractions of their muscles to create a very animated form of movement. Spawned in the hip hop era of the sixties and seventies, the street dance is mostly a forgotten art. Vinokur has been using it to help build an interest in science, performing the dance to draw attention to several intriguing experiments he demonstrates on-stage.
During his show in the Wauseon auditorium, Vinokur displayed his ability to pop in spades as he explained and exhibited a number of scientific concepts before the crowd.
But Vinokur’s show involved much more than just dancing. The Dancing Scientist also used crowd participation to excite the young crowd. Calling up elementary students Quintin Gigax, Alexis Hernandez, and Layne Henricks, Vinokur used an Airzooka to demonstate air movement through the fog rings it produces. With the doughnut-shaped air vortices serving as the ammunition, an air vortex cannon takes advantage of the slight taper on its broad barrel to channel the air pushed through the device by a diaphragm covering its larger opening as the flexible layer is pulled back and released.
After displaying how to work the Airzooka to Gigax, Hernandez, and Layne, he gave each of them a turn and a task. One at a time, the trio succeeded in shooting an air ring through a much more tangible one in a hula hoop.
Of course, as he is known as the Dancing Scientist, Vinokur incorporated flashy dance moves into this aspect of the show as well. This time, however, it was up to the kids to provide the entertainment, as the three on stage engaged in a dance-off for the ultimate prize; a billion points and the victory. Gigax was up first, invoking memories of an era he should be a bit too young to remember by performing “The Worm” without hesitation. Hernandez, the youngest of the three, was allowed to seek out help from a friend. She selected Dulce Martinez and together the pair first brought back disco, then gave their own rendition of “The Robot.”
Considered a massive underdog at this point, even Henricks himself did not like his odds of winning the competition. Yet, choosing to take on the modern fad that is Gangnam Style, he exploited the space of the stage with a greater degree of efficiency with its colorful maneuvering, winning over the crowd.
Vinokur used a decibel measuring device to determine the victory. Henricks edged out the duo of Hernandez and Martinez by a single decibel to earn the win.
After the performance, Vinokur stuck around to sign autographs and answer questions, with plenty of people in the audience taking advantage of the opportunity to do just that. And the scientist didn’t balk in the slightest as the stage was bombarded with eager attendees, taking the time to speak with each and every one of them.
Because Vinokur is never too busy for a fan.
T.J. Hug can be reached at