The Quantum Ballerina

Congratulations to Merritt Moore for Making FORBES „30 under30“

WOW! What an achievement. Not only has Merritt Moore made it onto the Forbes list this year, but she is also the one and only active ballerina with a PhD in quantum physics from Oxford University!

Merritt shared her secrets as a physicist on pointe – “I really do think it’s made me a better dancer to have done physics and a better physicist to have done dance. You need the creative brain in the lab to think of new ideas, and you need the analytic brain in the dance studio to figure out your center of mass.”

I was lucky to get an interview with her. So enjoy these five questions for the Quantum Ballerina!

Tell us your secret on how you motivate yourself every day?

Fear of regret that I didn’t give my all. I don’t want to look back later and wonder “what if I had given just a little more back then?“.

Watch the video: „Day in the Life of Merritt Moore

As a ballet dancer you must be a perfectionist. How do you overcome bad days or set backs?

That’s the beauty of having two passions: physics and dance. When dance isn’t going so well, I will still train and go to class, but I’ll focus more of my energy on physics for a little. Sometimes the brain just needs a break from the pressure that we put onto ourselves. Having a second passion allows one to go through the inevitable plateaus without overanalysing and stressing out too much.

Tell us about your time at Zurich Ballet. What did you learn from the experience?

That was the first time I was ever paid to dance so I felt a huge amount of responsibility. At first it was super tough physically, mentally, psychologically! I found it really important to have a way to reset mentally, so I would take hip hop lessons, opera lessons, physics classes, German lessons during lunch breaks or evening.

What would you tell young people starting their career? What do they need to know?

Success” is mostly figuring out how to be mentally strong. It is figuring how you will be happy during the process even if it doesn’t work out. I would think through every audition “How do I work on having a stronger character, being more confident and being more me” so that even if I didn’t make it through the audition, at least I felt like I had improved as a person.

What are your next steps? Are you still working on your dream to become an astronaut?

Having just finished my PhD in physics a month ago, I am jumping into the dance scene with 500% focus. I want to dance for the next 7-10 years and still work on getting my piloting licence and learning Russian to apply to be an astronaut once I am done with my dance career.

I welcome all artists- scientists to reach out to me via Instagram @physicsonpointe or website I love hearing from you.


More about Merritt Moore

Merritt Moore is a ballet dancer and quantum physicist, continually jumping from lab shoes to pointe shoes, from lab goggles to tutus. She has danced as a member of the Zurich Ballet, Boston Ballet, English National Ballet and London Contemporary Ballet Theatre while graduating with honours in physics at Harvard, and graduating with a PhD in Quantum Optics at Oxford University.

She was one of the 12 selected astronaut candidates, out of thousands to of applicants, to undergo rigorous astronaut selection on BBC Two “Astronauts: Do you have what it takes?”, and she continues to pursue the dream of becoming an astronaut.

Merritt has had enough of hearing that it is only possible to pursue dance or physics. She has worked hard to juggle both to prove that the arts and sciences are not mutually exclusive. She works to inspire young girls and boys by showing them that there is no ‘standard’ personality or path for doing so.

Currently Merritt works at the intersection of science and art- spearheading a movement which integrates the two. Whether it be at the Barbican, Imagine Science Festival, or for the London Design Festival at the Victoria and Albert Museum, she creates state-of-the-art work that integrates quantum physics and dance in the form of VR films, dance installations with robots, or online content.

Merritt has integrated her love for physics and dance for a TEDx talk at Oxford and for the international “Dance Your PhD” contest (and won the Physics category). She has been on the organizing committee for the Oxford Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) UK 2016 and was awarded Top Ten College Women of 2010 by Glamour Magazine and the Suzanne Farrell Award at Harvard. She was awarded the Michael von Clemm Fellowship (award to only one Harvard student a year) to study at Oxford.


Author: ballettlovers

I danced ballet as child, albeit with little success. Despite this, my passion for ballet and dance has carried into adulthood. I still love to watch ballet performances and would love to share my passion with you.

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