“ Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image. .."

~Goethe

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘monkey see, monkey do’? Is imitation really the highest form of flattery? Why is mirroring such an important part of learning?

From the time we are born and all through adulthood into our twilight years, we mimic and mirror one another as a primary method of learning, for better or for worse.

As anyone who has ever danced for more than a few minutes knows, movement is contagious. When we see something, whether we are directly looking at it, or if we are seeing it out of the corner of our eye, our natural impulses is to mirror it.

You have to look no further than the common act of yawning to prove this hypothesis correct. As every student who has sat through a boring lecture knows, it only takes one yawn to start the ball rolling, before long everyone in the room is feeling sleepy.

The same sort of phenomenon manifests itself among different species of animals everywhere. Watch a flock of chickens or a group of monkeys or a pack of dogs and you will see, a physical movement among one soon spreads to the entire group.

The science behind this has to do with what are called our mirror neurons. Every animal with a nervous system, including us humans, have a vast array of highly specialized, electromagnetically sensitive cells. We tend to think of neurons as being confined to the brain, but modern research has proven otherwise.

Apparently, there are just as many, if not more, of these magical mirror cells in our heart and spine as there are in our skulls. And the communication goes both ways too. Our brain is processing the signals coming from our hearts every bit as much as it’s giving orders to the rest of our body.

It’s an interesting thing to be conscious of, because we have the ability to exercise some choice in the matter, and to discern what is worth keeping, what we should discard. Just as hearing a piece of misinformation over and over enough times can make it seem true in our minds, unconsciously mimicking a behavior can have deleterious effects as well.

It’s fascinating to watch this play out on random groups of people. If you’ve ever taken part in an outdoor dance in a public venue, you’ll know what I mean. When families out strolling in the park encounter music and a group of dancers, they will invariably pause at a distance to observe the action.

Then within seconds, it’s always the young kids and the elderly who start bobbing along and moving in rhythm. The parents and the middle-age folks are generally the most serious and make a greater effort to resist the impulse. There’s something about both the beginners mind and the wisdom not to care that helps people be authentic!

I firmly believe that our mirror neurons respond to technology as well. I’m exploring where science can back me up on this, it’s a fascinating field of study. My belief comes from my own observations as a DJ, and what I see when I witness other dance floors.

This past week I played records in Palo Alto at the Sunday morningSilicon Valley Ecstatic Dance , and then again last Friday night at my event, Dance Jam in Berkeley. Both of these events were off the hook, super high energy on the dance floor, and a real feeling of being in the flow behind the turntables.

To me, it seems like the somatic texture of a dancefloor is somehow different when people are mirroring an analog sound wave as opposed to a digital simulacra. It’s really fun and gratifying to provide people with an authentic movement experience. There’s something about seeing people follow the sound from their hearts without their minds getting in the way that is really amazing.

Every day, in almost every situation, you encounter opportunities to either mirror or ignore another beings life experience. This is such fertile territory to try on a different somatic mode and inhabit another walk of life, if ever so briefly.

Bringing some consciousness to what you are mirroring is a great way to cultivate more love and a better understanding for your world. Whether it’s on the dance floor or out in the world you can not only learn, but model peace and positivity simply by the way you move.

Make every day’s dance your mirror of the world, and give it back your best!

Much love until next Monday, have a great week!

M+

Mark Metz
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine

Dance First Member Spotlight :: The Philly Tribe!

This week’s Dance First Member Spotlight shines on Rebekah Zhuraw and The Philly Tribe – A Dance Sanctuary! This collective of movers and shakers have been putting Philadelphia on the conscious movement map since 2006, and have done much to establish themselves as a force in the movement.

Built around the facilitation practice of several key members, including Rebekah Zhuraw, Kaitlynn Minguez, Keshia Mahan, Christina Fanizzi, Mariama O’Brien, Michelle Mahan, and Karen Holmes. The Philly Tribe also works hard to produce workshops and events for traveling luminaries of the movement world.

Regularly recurring classes and destination workshops include 5Rhythms, Open Floor, Soul Motion, Movement Medicine, and Azul. They also offer a Children’s Tribe class to better serve their community.

You can find out more and engage with The Philly Tribe by liking theirFacebook Page, signing up for their newsletter , or bookmarking theirwebsite. Offering classes at both the historic Summit Presbyterian Church and the world famous Pig Iron Theatre.

Make sure to include one of their classes or events when you are traveling through the area! Only 90 minutes from NYC, in the heart of America’s historical center, Philadelphia is one of the USA’s up-and-coming hotspots.

This February, they are welcoming Cynthia Kennedy and Joseph Machado for “Uncovering – An Open Floor Workshop” on February 1-3rd.

And for an inspiring look into the folks who make up The Philly Tribe, check out the “Humans of The Philly Tribe” page on their website for a collection of brief snapshots and commentary from dedicated community members. This page is a great way to engage!

Thanks to everyone in The Philly Tribe for all your spirit and dedication to the movement! We’re delighted to include you in the greater Conscious Dancer community, and appreciate your continued membership in the Dance First Association.

Uncovering :: An Open Floor Workshop with Cynthia Kennedy and Joseph Machado
Feb 1-3, Pig Iron Theatre, Philadelphia, PA