30 Mar

Mostly Flow, Some Choreo

Here’s an interesting idea: KidsDance. Not so much the idea of DJs for kids’ parties, but the idea of individual companies in various cities banding together with a national identity and marketing plan. Check out this page: DJ’s Only.

Great domain name, but dead: LiveToDance.com. No updates since February 1999 (at least not to the calendar).

We often hear about how contra dance is growing (or at least maintaining) in popularity, while MWSD is on a downhill slide. We also often hear about how MWSD evolved into something that’s no longer sellable to the general public. I found this article, Jenny Beer on contra dance choreography, to be an interesting look at how contra dance choreography is also evolving, even, to a certain extent, in ways that are similar to how square dancing evolved: everybody active, demise of whole figures in favor of moves that contribute to flow, less emphasis on moving to the music, dances learned for the moment and then quickly forgotten…

Here’s another article on contra dancing and why dance is enjoyable: Contradictations, Chapter 1. The author, Erik Hoffman, briefly mentions MWSD:

In contra dance, the pattern repeats itself, so the caller can eventually drop out and let the music drive the dance. In square dance, it’s a bit different: the pattern is open to change and the caller keeps calling. As we become familiar with the calls, we can stop thinking and enter the no-thought state by responding to the calls. (The modern western square dance clubs have taken this concept to the extreme.)

I think in MWSD, the goal is not to enter a “no-thought” state, but rather to enter a state of flow, where the fact that we’re forced to respond quickly and almost automatically to rapid fire demands puts us into an altered state, if you will. One way to think about flow is: “a high state of attention, the conscious and unconscious processing of a massive amount of information relating to the accomplishment of a task, and the often profound state of relaxation and pleasurable alertness that occurs to further fix an individual to the task at hand and otherwise optimize cognitive efficiency.” This is from Dr. Mezmer’s World of Bad Psychology, a debunking of some of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s more ecstatic descriptions of this “optimal experience”. We’ll be talking more about flow here; when I first read Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow: the psychology of optimal experience, I related to it through square dancing (and writing code, of course). I’ve had an occasional flow experience while dancing; I’ll bet most of you have too. Here’s the start of my collection of flow notes: Flow

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