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Archive for the ‘Anthropology’ Category

Hi, I am Mike and I am pursuing anthropology as an interest in my retirement. In September 2011 I started this blog and have been calling it a research blog. The purpose was to engage with professional ballet dancers and ballet companies to get a feel for developing a useful research question and potentially find contacts to make proposals to for research fieldwork before enrolling in a research degree. With the passing of time I have discovered a lot more about ballet dancers but have also come to the realisation that doing a research degree at my age is just not going to happen. As a result, my blog has become largely inactive. One of the problems I have wrestled with is the fact that many people seem to read the blog but very few comment. I have invited guest posters from the field of dance who have authored for me with some small success. I am now in the process of looking at how this blog may look going forward; how to engage with its intended audience; and how to find motivation to write more and relevant posts.

cheers… Mike

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Guest post by Judith Lynne Hanna, Ph.D.

Judith Lynne Hanna, Ph.D. is affiliated with the University of Maryland. Hanna’s doctorate in anthropology at Columbia University focused on dance. She has been a dance critic and written many books and articles on dance published in numerous countries where she has given guest lectures and courses.  See www.judithhanna.com for more information.

I am excited to have just learned that in December, Rowman & Littlefield will publish my new book, Dancing to Learn: The Brain’s Cognition, Emotion, and Movement and so I’m sharing the news with you.

This book evolved because I believe everyone can benefit from a new paradigm of dance for young and old alike that is grounded in the new brain sciences and integrated with knowledge in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Dancing to Learn explains that dance is nonverbal language with similar places and education processes in the brain as verbal language, thus a powerful means of expression.  Dance is physical exercise that sparks new brain cells (neurogenesis) and neural plasticity, the brain’s amazing ability to change throughout life—I’m dancingflamenco, belly dance, jazz, and salsa!).  Moreover, dance is a means to help us cope with stress that can motivate or interfere with learning. We acquire knowledge and develop cognitively because dance bulks up the brain and, consequently, dance as an art, recreational, educational, and or therapeutic form is a good investment in the brain. The “brain that dances” is changed by it.

You may read the description, reviews, and contents here Judith Hanna Dancing to Learn Book Release

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Sensory Anthropology Meets Neuroanthropology.

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Over on LinkedIn I asked the question “Are there differences between different forms of dance which influence dancer’s drive to professional status?” Specifically,

This is a rather broad question. I believe all professional dancers have put in the hard work required to get to professional status otherwise they would not be there. But are there differences that help guide outcomes to direct dancers to one form or another. It seems with only a few exceptions, most dancers start at a young age and usually in ballet class. What do you think attracts only some to become professional classical ballet dancers and many others to branch into other forms of dance (contemporary, modern, music theatre, aerial, just to name a few)? Does opportunity play a large part, or are there many other factors?

I would like to say I have enjoyed the spirited conversation that the question provoked. The responses open up many dimensions of the original question that I posed.

If you want to join in the conversation please feel free.

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A friend at Macquarie University is running an introduction to human evolution course online as a MOOC. It runs for four weeks starting tomorrow and is called ” Becoming Human: Anthropology (BeHuman)” (link). Dancers may find this course of interest as it takes a look at how we “evolved from primates and became human.” I was a tutor for an extended on-campus version of this course several years ago and can highly recommend this online version to anyone with limited time available. MOOC courses are free and prerequisites not usually required.

UPDATE: Please note that if you missed it, this course is running multiple times, the next 27/05/2013 to 23/06/2013.

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I haven’t posted here for a little while. I have been busy with other things like completing an online university course. And now that is finished, I have to worry about last year’s tax returns. But it has not all been work, we have just returned from a ten day holiday in the sun 🙂

I have to admit to having a little writers block at the moment which I will strive to overcome and write soon. If you have anything you would like to discuss here, feel free to mention it.

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I have been wrestling with the meaning of one word related to my dance research for a while now. “Motivation”

There are many sources that describe motivation from a psychological perspective. But I don’t want to go there. Often when I speak about motivation, people tend to think about how one individual can motivate another. Certainly when I use the word as a # tag I seem to draw in plenty of commercial enterprises trying to flog motivational blogs, presentations, books and speeches. Again this is not what I am really wanting to look at.

A little closer to my interest is how dancers motivate themselves. Discussions I have had on social media would suggest that many dancers don’t think consciously about what motivates them. This is hardly surprising since most of us think about what we are doing a lot more than why we are doing it. So one little question could open up the whole point I am trying to make, when a dancer says they dance professionally because “it is their life”, “it makes them feel good”, or “it is in their being”; I ask myself why? They are motivated to feel this way and I would like to discover what various forms this takes.

 

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