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Do You Feel The Moves?


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There was a piece from the NY Times in yesterday's Links reporting research that suggested that ballet/dance watchers showed brain response signals as if they were dancers themselves, despite their knowing they could not manage the steps:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/27/science/some-ballet-spectators-truly-know-how-to-feel-the-moves.html?_r=1

 

It struck me as odd when I found it, for I have no knowledge of ever feeling anything of the sort - but is there anyone else out there who feels it may be true for them? (The NYT link carries another to the full article describing the phenomenon.)

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I've never experienced the phenomenon while watching ballet, but for many years now I've had vivid and recurring dreams where I am dancing en pointe. I stopped ballet at age 6 and have never even worn a pair of pointe shoes, but in the dreams I can dance beautifully en pointe and feel everything completely vividly. Not sure whether that's using the same part of the brain...fascinating stuff though!

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So can I , Spanner! I have worn pointe shoes - on older friend's and it ended up with both of us being thrown out of our classes for the day and poor Julie got in to an awful row because of it. I still feel guilty about that!

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I'm not aware of ever having had those feelings but I do see dancers when I am listening to the music. I caused some colleagues much amusement some years ago. We were stuck side by side in a mega-jam on the M5 and I was listening to Still Life at the Penguin Cafe and without realising at the time was doing the arm actions! (I've never had a dance lesson in my life, have got 2 left feet and am very clumsy!).

 

My Dad, when watching athletics, used to "participate" in the high jum, long jump and hurdles, much to our amusement!

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Yes, I do physically feel it When I was still dancing and in the audience, I could definitely feel as if I was physically participating. It was often distracting and interfered with simply being an observer. I was using my core muscles along with the dancers on stage.

 

Since retirement this doesn't happen except sometimes I find myself "mourning" for my lost abilities and sometimes I almost can't watch. Other times - I do enjoy being able to watch without "participating."

 

 

Other phenomena:

 

As for dreams - well, it's been years since my last ballet class (2005) but I still dream of it often. In my dream I am in class but there is always something that prevents me from participating like suddenly there's no room at the barre for me (never happened in real life), or my hair keeps falling down (never happened), or I'm late (never happened), or or or - and I end up sobbing. Then I awake and real tears are there.

 

 

A couple of years ago (post retirement) I needed a medical procedure which usually entails a sleeping pill which I couldn't take due to an allergy. I elected to go ahead anyway. In the operating room the doctor (who knew me well) put on some music and it happened to be Rodrigo's guitar concerto - to which I had danced many times. Throwing dignity to the winds, as he operated on other parts of me - I used my arms and "danced" to Rodrigo's beautiful music. It got me through the ordeal. I also have to say the operating room staff told me they enjoyed the "performance!" :)

 

There also was a time ballet saved my life as I grand jete'd a split second before I would have been struck by an oncoming commuter train - he had run a red light. And another time when I did have major surgery I refused post operative pain medication except for Tylenol - I figured the pain couldn't be any worse than a particular ballet teacher's Monday morning pointe class. The nurses were VERY skeptical - but it worked like a charm.

 

Well, I won't go on - except to say that those of us who have danced intensely find that it informs almost everything we do long after the pointe shoes are put in the back of the drawer (never throw out that last pair....just in case.......)

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I've attended a number of science lectures where it has been discussed how the brain of someone who also habitually does the same activity as the one they are watching, even if not to the same proficiency, reacts differently to someone who who does not practise that activity. Examples given have included dancers of one kind or another, musicians, eg a violinist watching someone else play the violin, footballers, etc.

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