Came across the following article which might explain why movement is so connected to our self image, and perhaps why it is so hard to move/dance differently from what feels 'natural' to us.
I don't think there is any debate that our emotional state changes how we move ... at least for the vast majority of people - it's pretty obvious when someone is sad, angry, frightened or happy .... but if motion and emotion are connected, perhaps how we present ourselves to the outside world, as in our self image, is also connected to how we move? And perhaps why it's hard to 'act' in a way that is separate from what one thinks of as self.
Changing how we move - both rhythm and manner - is a great way to change the game in sword play, and a great way to avoid being predictable. And if, as the study suggests, music is deeply ingrained at that same emotional level where personal movement resides ... perhaps music is a also a way (along with mirroring others) to expand one's repertoire ..... ?
Here's some of the study:
Why Music Moves Us
Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer
'Universal emotions like anger, sadness and happiness are expressed
nearly the same in both music and movement across cultures, according to
found that when Dartmouth undergraduates and members of a remote
Cambodian hill tribe were asked to use sliding bars to adjust traits
such as the speed, pitch, or regularity of music, they used the same
types of characteristics to express primal emotions. What's more, the
same types of patterns were used to express the same emotions in
animations of movement in both cultures.
"The kinds of dynamics
you find in movement, you find also in music and they're used in the
same way to provide the same kind of meaning," said study co-author
Thalia Wheatley, a neuroscientist at Dartmouth University.
findings suggest music's intense power may lie in the fact it is
processed by ancient brain circuitry used to read emotion in our
"The study suggests why music is so fundamental and
engaging for us," said Jonathan Schooler, a professor of brain and
psychological sciences at the University of California at Santa Barbara,
who was not involved in the study. "It takes advantage of some very,
very basic and, in some sense, primitive systems that understand how
motion relates to emotion."
people love music has been an enduring mystery. Scientists have found
that animals like different music than humans and that brain regions
stimulated by food, sex and love also light up when we listen to music.
Musicians even read emotions better than nonmusicians.
studies showed that the same brain areas were activated when people read
emotion in both music and movement. That made Wheatley wonder how the
two were connected.
To find out, Wheatley and her colleagues
asked 50 Dartmouth undergraduates to manipulate five slider bars to
change characteristics of an animated bouncy ball to make it look happy,
sad, angry, peaceful or scared.
"We just say 'Make Mr. Ball
look angry or make Mr. Ball look happy,'" she told LiveScience. [See
Videos of the Sad and Happy Bouncy Ball]
To create different
emotions in "Mr. Ball," the students could use the slider bars to affect
how often the ball bounced, how often it made big bounces, whether it
went up or down more often and how smoothly it moved.
50 students could use similar slider bars to adjust the pitch
trajectory, tempo, consonance (repetition), musical jumps and
jitteriness of music to capture those same emotions.
students tended to put the slider bars in roughly the same positions
whether they were creating angry music or angry moving balls.
To see if these trends held across cultures, Wheatley's team traveled to
the remote highlands of Cambodia and asked about 85 members of the
Kreung tribe to perform the same task. Kreung music sounds radically
different from Western music, with gongs and an instrument called a mem
that sounds a bit like an insect buzzing, Wheatley said. None of the
tribes' people had any exposure to Western music or media, she added.
Interestingly, the Kreung tended to put the slider bars in roughly the
same positions as Americans did to capture different emotions, and the
position of the sliders was very similar for both music and emotions.
The findings suggest that music taps into the brain networks and
regions that we use to understand emotion in people's movements. That
may explain why music has such power to move us — it's activating
deep-seated brain regions that are used to process emotion, Wheatley
"Emotion is the same thing no matter whether it's coming in through our eyes or ears," she said.'
The study is detailed today (Dec. 17) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.