Biologist wins 'Dance Your PhD' with moves showing Kangaroo insights

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Kangaroo Time (Club Edit) is the creative vision of Dr Weliton Menrio Costa.—ANU
'Kangaroo Time (Club Edit)' is the creative vision of Dr Weliton Menrio Costa.—ANU

Dr Weliton Menario Costa, also known as "WELI," clinched the top spot in the 2024 Dance Your PhD competition with his innovative entry, "Kangaroo Time (Club Edit)," The Guardian reported.

A biologist and Australian National University graduate, Dr Costa's four-minute video uniquely explores kangaroo behaviour by incorporating diverse dance styles, including drag, ballet, twerking, and classical Indian dance. The video features a varied cast of friends, showcasing cultural fusion.

Judges were impressed by the creative approach, awarding Dr Costa the annual top prize presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Science magazine. 

The Dance Your PhD contest, established in 2008, encourages scientists to communicate their research through dance, aiming to make complex concepts more accessible.

Dr Costa, starring in and directing the music video, draws on his Brazilian roots to illustrate kangaroo personality traits. The song, available in original and club mixes on Spotify, has gained popularity with over 7,000 plays and is featured in clubs, festivals, dance classes, and radio stations.

For Dr Costa, winning the contest is akin to winning Eurovision, highlighting the might of Australian research and the nation's creativity. Reflecting on the success of "Kangaroo Time," he emphasises a message of inclusivity and diversity. 

As a queer immigrant from a linguistically diverse developing country, Dr. Costa underscores the importance of celebrating differences, a theme evident in the video's diverse dancers representing various cultures and backgrounds.