strathspey Archive: Pilling

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Message 9879 · Keith Grant · 20 Dec 1997 19:12:16 · Top

From: Alan Paterson <>
Subject: Re: Pilling
Date: Sat, 20 Dec 1997 16:02:28 +0100

> No Becky. You're not alone. While I can usually understand the diagrams
> and can appreciate the use of them as an aide-memoire, I deplore the
> tendency to try to learn from them (which seems to be becoming more
> widespread over here). When I prepare crib sheets for our dances, I use
> text.

There are nearly as many variations in individual learning styles and modes
as there are individuals. Some favor the spoken description of a dance.
Others do best sitting with the text, mentally translating the details of
the description at their own rate into the kinesthetic patterns of the
dance. Others work best with a visual diagram of the movement; still others
with the direct kinesthetic learning of a walk-through.

It is known that kinesthetic learning occurs with mental practice and
visualization, but the best medium to trigger that learning varies. Our vary
thought and intent, however, substantially affects the tension and neural
activation of our muscles, motivating the pathways to learning and recall.
Most of our movements and our patterns of habitual balance and tension have
long ago dropped below the realm of conscious attention.

Nor are our individual modes completely constant. What may be best for the
initial learning of a dance can be inefficient to load the kinesthetic
recall needed to perform a dance already learned. We also vary with time and
circumstance. While I am normally proficient at listening to a dance
description and internally translating it into a kinesthetic experience of
the dance, there are times, after long days, that the words wash over me
like an ungraspable wave. At these times, it is only when I actually move
through the dance that comphrehension begins to occur.

Now it is certainly true that Pilling's diagrams suffer from being an
incomplete description of a dance. Many important nuances, remain to be
filled in from other sources. What they do provide is a quick visualization
of the general flow and overall pattern of the dance. Complete text is not a
substitute for this, just as shorthand diagrams are not a substitute for the
completeness of the full description. Some learn best by following detail by
detail through the text; others by grasping the gestalt of the visual/
kinesthetic pattern and, much like an interlaced GIF graphic, filling in the
details in subsequent sweeps.

In the end, we all hopefully arrive at that same place of meeting each other
hand-to-hand, eye-to-eye, and smile-to-smile as we mutually flow our bodies
and minds through the patterns and interactions of the dance.


I Keith Eric Grant I We must remember that everything I
I <> I is ordinary and extraordinary. It I
I--------------------------------------I is our minds that either open or I
I Over the hills, but not too far away I close. Details are not good or I
I from the San Francisco East Bay I bad. They are details. -- Natalie I
I I Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones I

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