Saturday, June 21, 2008

This is your brain on dance

My friend Malevito at Virtualapiz found this article in Scientific Americanon the neuroscience of dance.

Thank your precuneus. It's "a parietal lobe region very close to where the kinesthetic representation of the legs resides". I find it particularly interesting that the researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio specifically chose Argentine Tango dancers. Not Texas two-steppers, not swingers or lindy hoppers, not polka-ations, but Argentine Tango. Our little sleeper of a dance sure does get a lot of attention doesn't it? (Although, to be fair, they also worked with ballet dancers and capoeira dancers, as well as non-dancers.)

Next we will find that Islamic fundamentalist extremism in the Middle East has been quelched all because of Argentine Tango (with a little Monica Bellucci wearing nothing but lingerie mixed in). Courtesy of this imagery which seems to be making the rounds in Syria, Dubai, and Iran.

When you read the article, note that the researchers chose the much maligned "basic eight" for the wired/hooked up dancers to repeat while the data were collected.

What I also find interesting, sitting here thinking about it now, as we all know, it is extremely important to not think about tango, or the dance, or the steps, or the weight transfers, or the this and the that, for tango to "feel" right. I wonder if the researchers considered this - that their readings could be different for an inexperienced tango dancer thinking about the basic eight as he/she executes it, versus a milonguero who has been dancing for 40 years.

I wonder.

1 comment:

Malevito said...

Hi Alex, how are you?

Interesting musing about the possibly different brain function of beginners vs. experienced milongueros. I hadn't thought about it from that perspective.

I would also be curious to see the brain scan of followers in the process of following and leaders leading, and the latter particularly in a social situation on a dynamically changing dance floor, and the difference between someone dancing with a familiar partner vs. a stranger, or a familiar song vs. an unfamiliar, and if D'Arienzo fires up a different part of the brain than Di Sarli...

Maybe we can petition for a grant to establish the Tango Brain Scan Institute or something. Clearly, there's a lot to be learned.

Thanks for the credit :)