The question is, how does watching a dance video benefit you
There is an overabundance of youtube videos to entertain, inform and distract us these days. However, if you want to spend an exhilarating 4 minutes and 52 seconds, watch this mash-up of vintage dance clips (1953 and earlier), brilliantly edited by Michael Binder to the popular song Uptown Funk.
I’ve watched this video at least a dozen times. Some of my favorite scenes are of Shirley Temple and Bill Bojangles Robinson, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, James Cagney, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Gene Kelly coming down on the couch in Singing in the Rain. I could swear there’s one scene in there with Lucille Ball. Simply brilliant!
But the question is, how does watching this video benefit you?
If you’ve ever danced, it’s likely you’ve made at least some of these moves. Perhaps not as skillfully as Fred and Ginger, the Nicholas Brothers, or Ann Miller, but whether you danced swing, rock and roll, tap, or even just walked rhythmically to music, your brain remembers and gets reactivated when watching actions you’ve performed!
It turns out that by simply watching someone engaged in an activity we have done, the brain activity in the viewer is activated in the motor area, the visual centers, and the areas responsible for visual-motor integration. Of course, the system’s activity level increases with the degree of training the individual has had.
Marco Iacoboni, a neuroscientist at UCLA best known for his work on mirror neurons, confirmed that a small circuit of cells in the premotor cortex and inferior parietal cortex are activated “both when we perform a certain action—such as smiling or reaching for a cup—and when we observe someone else performing that same action. In other words, they collapse the distinction between seeing and doing.” (retrieved 11/23/15 http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-mirror-neuron-revolut/ )
“When we observe action in others, we simulate that action in ourselves, acting covertly, as if we, too, are performing it.” (retrieved 11/23/15 http://www.watchingdance.org/news_events/forthcoming_events/concepts_and_contexts/programme/_abstracts/The%20Embodied%20Brain_Batson.pdf )
Imagine showing this video mash-up to a group of senior adults, with or without dementia, to simulate that action in them, activating that circuit of cells and then seeing how that stimulates their physicality and joy as they move to music of their eras.