dancing and slow brains

As I mentioned on Facebook, yesterday, I had a nice compliment from the dance instructor at the Ceccetti dance camp. I have loved the paintings of Degas since I was a kid. I wonder if that has anything to do with my appreciation of dance.

The way this works is that the instructor (who is a highly disciplined dancer and ballet teacher), outlines routines for the students involving basic ballet moves. She calls out the moves by their French name (frappe, grand de jamb). Then she looks at the pianist and says ok.

Some years ago, I was invited to do this but given no prep. When the instructor looked at me, I had no idea what she wanted other than the fact that I was suppose to now supply the music. I quickly learned to follow the instructions closely, especially the body language and tempo of the instructor. Then I improvise strict 8 measure phrases.

Interestingly enough, I also quickly learned that dancers follow melody as much as rhythm.

Of course body movement is basic to musicality. And ballet is such a wonderful discipline with strict classroom etiquette, that I quickly fell in love with doing this camp once a year.

They usually import a bunch of instructors and pianists. I am the local yokel that they use for last minute substitutions.

Enrollment is down. They only asked me to cover two classes instead of the usual ten to twenty. They pay pretty good. And unlike so many of the artistic types I rub shoulders with, they seem to appreciate my musicality.

It’s a great challenge to improvise little melodies for an hour and twenty minutes, but it’s also rewarding in an odd modest way.

Yesterday the instructor indicated that I would be a candidate as a pianist for the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. I told her we could sure discuss it and gave her my numbers. Not sure anything will come of it, but it is nice to be appreciated.

On a different note, I continue to think that Rheingold and others (yesterday’s link to an article about how good teachers are reconsidering IT in the classroom) are definitely on to something about the sophistication needed to learn in an IT environment.

Actually I think this sophistication is necessary in any environment.

As I was taught a bit about research in grad school, my natural skepticism was reinforced by learning research tools about verification of sources.

Now when I talk to people, I realize that often their orientation is pragmatic to their own small circle of understanding. But the idea of expanding that circle to include questions they haven’t thought of and examining the origin of their own notions and information seems pretty rare. I think an inquiring skeptical mind is essential to the continuation of learning. When I see the light of curiosity ebb in a person’s eyes, it seems a bit sad to me. I feel once again limited in my interaction with others. Staring at a screen can only exacerbate such slowing brain activity.

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