Thursday, September 20, 2012

Acrobats and Mirror Neurons

What I loved best, at the DNA Theatre this past weekend, was watching their focus. In an aerial show, mistakes can be serious, so their focus was complete and beautiful to watch. I came home and had a wonderful couple hours drawing. Inspiration is often stimulated by excellence in other spheres. Just like when I’m watching tennis, I appreciate what spurs me to push my boundaries and the great brain chemistry that goes with it. My mirror neurons have had a trip like they haven’t had since Cirque du Soliel. And again like with tennis where I end up actually twitching and leaning, it went beyond my mirror neurons and into some odd physical positions of my neck and shoulders. My more cerebral capacities have been improved as well, my concepts refined in relation to twisting, bending and synchronizing motion in relation to gravity, because they were all doing things that I can’t do, but in witnessing it becomes part of my model of possibilities. In the firing of mirror neurons I grew circuits for understanding new kinds of expressive movement. Maybe this was part of the heavy blast of dopamine I got from the performance, such a novel experience waking up new mental territory. I heard recently that high dopamine lowers skepticism and increases the urge to explore, a definite plus for making art. Ideas shouldn’t be filtered by anxieties about judgment. Whatever comes up can be refined and edited later. Armed with my burst of dopamine I invented a new effect in my drawing and opened new choices in my own work. Uncertain about what I’m doing, my concentration increases. Involved more deeply, the pleasure increases. There was much to admire in the production. Their use of the full theatrical experience, lights, sound, and projections was imaginative, surely benefiting from the different arts in the backgrounds of the performers. Use of shadows and silhouettes showed an understanding of perceptual illusions that added magical and dramatic effects. To perform an aerial show requires years of training the body in order to make difficult and strenuous moves with control and grace. And the excitement grows when there’s that tinge of danger.
I’m grateful to the performers and creators of DNA Theatre for providing an inspiring and enjoyable theatre experience. Each performance was sculptural, a cross between dance and circus. But it was seeing their complete immersion, absolutely necessary to swinging around on ropes in a small space, that I found uplifting. When people give their all we are all improved by it. Artistry and acrobatics is a fabulous combination, with the wow factor in the service of beauty. Admiration of the physical mastery and the discipline it requires reinforce positive qualities in the viewers. Maybe it’s part our appetite for the arts, to feel that quickening and urge to improvement. 

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