These scientists can strut

by Lucas Wisenthal, BA'03

While McGill’s cancer scientists have long been highly regarded for their contributions to research, none have ever been mistaken for a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance.

Thanks to an award-winning video that has attracted more than 455,000 viewers, that might well change.

Dozens of McGill researchers and students from the Goodman Cancer Research Centre took part in the video, a lipdub set to Taio Cruz’s ubiquitous hit “Dynamite,” which depicts a choreographed version of some of their real-life laboratory labour.

The video went viral upon its debut last fall, and each hit on YouTube gets translated into a donation to the Goodman Centre, courtesy of Medicom, a medical supplies company. The video has been featured on NBC’s Today Show and attracted the attention of the Wall Street Journal. More recently, it earned awards from both the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education for its outstanding use of multimedia and social media in support of McGill's cancer researchers.

The concept for the video stemmed from a conversation with Rosalind Goodman, BA'63, LLD'11, a steadfast supporter of the University’s cancer research initiatives, explains Heidi Berger, BA’71, the video’s producer. Goodman wanted to showcase the excitement that surrounds work undertaken in the lab. “So we talked about it,” says Berger, “and then I came up with the idea of a dance video, with music.” Choreography was supplied by dance instructor Adonna Greaves, a breast cancer survivor.

Following months of preparation, the video was shot over a single weekend last spring. “We wanted it to be as real as possible, so we used the equipment that the scientists use,” says Berger. “It was difficult to coordinate everything, but the spirit of the researchers that you see in the video, and the spirit of the scientists that were so willing to do this, made it work.”

And though some were keener than others, Berger admits, a few were truly happy to ham it up on camera. A leather jacketed Michel Tremblay, the former director of the Goodman Centre, was one of them. “He had three pairs of sunglasses on him to make sure which ones looked the best!”