Monday, October 26, 2009

Dancing is for the Birdz

It was great a weekend of dance artistry for me. Saturday night I joined some co-conspirators and enjoyed a spectacular performance at Yerba Buena Center by

Alonzo King's Lines Ballet

I have to admit that for me the overall style took some adjusting to on my part, but once that was done I was thoroughly engaged. I can add nothing in words about the experience, it has to be seen in person for full effect !

On Sunday afternoon I played videographer for

Kathy Mata Ballet

to capture the performance put on for the residents at the Sequioa's Senior Center in San Francisco. It was a pleasant couple of hours of serious and playful Ballet, Mambo, HipHop, Belly Dance and a great piano vocal duo Jack and Adele performing favorite standards and hits (e.g. 'I've got you under my skin')

Over the years I've wondered what it is that drives people to make music and to dance. Every culture (except for those espoused by the likes of the Taliban whom advocate the abolishment of music and dance) has their form of music and dance all commonly bound by concepts of rhythm and melody (and where there's absence of rhythm or melody, usually it's that way on purpose to make a statement about rhythm or melody, as in: 'hey, guess what's NOT here ?'). One of my favorite 90's music videos is by the B-52s and features clips of people from various cultures doing their dances (you might be able to find 'B52s Roam' on YouTube subject to the whims of the controlling Music Industry Dinosaurs).

Back when people bought music by walking into stores and sampling CDs, I remember watching a group of IQ challenged students come in to listen to some CDs. Regardless of differences in the brain from 'persons of normal IQ', they definitely felt and enjoyed the rhythm of what they were listening to and were happily rocking their bodies to the beat. Clearly, there's something innate in humans that allows us to create music and dance.

It turns out that this ability may be broader than something common to human kind though. Some researchers conjecture that dance may be something common to all earthly beings that have the ability to speak. Speaking requires the articulation of particular body parts at the correct time, the theory goes, and this ability to coordinate these actions to create speech implies the existence of a sense of rhythm. Included in the beings so blessed are talking birds, as reported in this

2008 NYT article: Avian Dancing

The article refers to videos of 'Snowball' a dancing bird. To test that Snowball was not bobbing and stepping in time with the music 'by coincidence' the researcher varied the tempo of the music and found that Snowbird adjusted his movements to whatever the tempo of the music was. Yes, that bird was dancing !

Video of Snowbird Doing It

So Dancing is for Birds, and I'm loving every minute of it !

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