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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Online Videos: Chinese Circus athletes

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Cheetah - its not dance (though it uses dance forms), its circus.


Circuses aim to continually astonish, overwhelm and amaze you by showing you things that you think are impossible. It then tends to flip your mind into a dream-like state (I think). But it's not an artistic experience in the sense that ballet is an artistic experience. I'm a fan of circus, so I'm not trying to denigrate it, its just different.


And about "acrobatics extend [i guess was meant] her body to such a degree that it seemed awkward and painful to watch".


People often find watching extreme bending painful. And there's a very interesting reason behind that, I think.


A contortionist I know hit the nail on the head when he said "my dad thinks its horrible, but that's just because it'd hurt him if he did it".


Absolutely right. I suggest we interpret other peoples' movements in terms of what we could do ourselves. We have empathy with their movements; if they go into a range which would hurt us, we empathise and feel pain (a bit).


What has this got to do with ballet? I suggest the same mental processes occur when we watch ballet. If I see someone leap, I follow in my own mind what my own body could do (using my memory of movements that I can do). If I could leap 2 feet into the air, but the person I am watching leaps 5 feet into the air, I get a feeling of exhilaration because suddenly my expectations have got extended, and I "feel" the extra movement in myself.


We have had a discussion on this board already about "mirror neurones" in the brain, that are activated when you watch movements with which you are in sympathy (like dance), and I suggest that they are part of the chain of events involved.



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Very beautiful and amazing! I agree that the man has to go through some discomfort to hold her in those positions. Also, the man is the one adjusting his position so that she keeps her balance up there. It seems to me her job is to hold it like a "stick" and not waver, his is to adjust his body and balance to hold her there. Looks like he's not adjusting much, though, as she's got amazing balance anyways.

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dragons tooth

:ermm: Mon dieu, some of this may be off topic!


My favorite was the cambre backward, a la Swan Lake, on top of the man's head.


I have to say that I liked the aesthetic for what it is - and the music is *very* Chinese gala.


Jimpickles raised some interesting questions and points. I've sent you a PM, Jim, on the question about Mongolian contorsionism, for the sake of brevity in this post.


Jim's reference to Magnetic Resonance Imaging and 'mirror neurones' is fascinating. Recently I heard a little bit about this from some cognitive scientists and philosophers. The data looks compelling and worth reading into. It documents a literally sensational interface between dance and science. For those who haven't heard of the mirror concept before, it'll probably throw into relief the process by which you internalise and reproduce dance patterns, making it clearer than you've ever imagined before. Dancers and other athlestes probably have intuited the cogntivists' results already, but viewing it in their explicit terms is another step altogether.


This is extremely exciting. MRIs give brilliant data based on the subject who *passively* internalises information. These studies might well go further if the cognitivists scan people *in the process of moving*.


Current scans represent a kind of passive data - they come from people looking at screens while lying down. Non-specialists in movement cannot recognise specialist movement and so give less intriguing scans. But scans of specialists (say dancers watching dancers) show the brain internalising patterns via a process of simulacrum, where people imagine the patterns reproduced on themselves (the mirror effect).


Quite likely, the brain engaged in actual movement takes this a step further. The machinery currently used to capture resonancy (looks like a long tunnel to accommodate a sleeping body) does not permit much bodily movement, and indeed is designed to work independently from it. Those making the scans find that the research works well in the passive state. They want passive responses. These responses do produce interesting results, but there's more.


I would immediately place a high wager that if someone used resonance imaging that could accommodate intricate bodily movement, we'd get explosive results on the scans. Far more would light up on them.


When the mind is taken up with kinesthetic practice, the interplay between internalisation of patterns through mimetic recognition (watching the teacher demonstrate a step, imagining how to move when in the process of dancing, copying other dancers at a speed that keeps time with the music, fooling others into thinking you remembered the steps doing this) and the actual reproduction of those steps through the body should work at a mind-blowing pace. It seems that associative capacities in the brain fleet between recognition (which requires simulacra movement) and actual reproduction of patterns (which occurs even as the next simulacra, or probably several simulacra, are being processed). Far more interchange should occur, at a far faster pace, than in the passive mode of watching dance while lying down.


Much of the current research on how the brain works when a person responds to a *natural* environment draws on control groups of people with impairments. This is very worthwhile research with telling results. Perhaps sometime soon it may be complemented with research on how the brain operates in elite training practices - not restricted to ballet, but inclusive of many physical activities.


Any cognitivist reading this - please take up the idea! Am dying to see the results! :shrug:

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As amazing as the link is, I really did mean to be funny, not as serious as it has been taken. It is not ballet and I did not mean it to be compared to ballet. Next time I will use some smilies! :thumbsup::yes::)

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Outch, this shoulder must hurt. But it's beautiful to watch

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dragons tooth

Definitely the clip was entertaining. Wouldn't have to be overly-serious about the circus. :yes: But the neurones stuff is cool. :thumbsup: Very interesting to think about, possibly more so for some dancers than the scientists. :)

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  • 1 month later...
Guest gabby dances in the rain

people... you MUST MUST MUST go to this link and watch the video.


amazing doesn't begin to describe it!




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