Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Everybody Dance Now!

We have been doing experiments with being in class in person and meeting in Second Life. One day, a student was sitting in class but her avatar was dancing in our class space in Second Life. As she stopped her avatar dancing, she muttered, "If I could dance in class, I would!"

I started thinking about this and haven't stopped. Why not dance in class? What would be the differences between dancing in SL and dancing in our classroom? (We are musicians and artists, remember, so this is not as strange to us as it might be to others!) So we have been. Twice now, half the class has been only in SL and the other half in the classroom, with me and one other person in both the virtual and physical class spaces. And we have been dancing! I am going to invite my students to talk about that experience first, and then I will chime in. But in the meantime, consider getting up . . . . putting on some music . . . . and dance!


  1. I feel that dancing in class this week was very interesting and fun at the same time. While we were dancing and talking at the same time I felt that it was no different than dancing and talking at social gathering. But at one point I found myself trying to dance like my fellow classmates in SL...! But I also think that we don't dance in class normally because we have all been raised with a certain classroom "behavior" to exibit during class time.

  2. I found it pretty fun (and only mildly distracting) to dance in class. Being the one who said, "If I could dance in class, I would," I definitely stick by my original statement. I agree with TheGroove in that we don't dance during c lass because doing so doesn't fit typical and appropriate "classroom behavior," but I also think we don't dance because it can get a bit awkward and embarrassing for some people. Personally, I love to dance, but I can certainly understand people who don't feel such an affinity for dancing.

    Overall, we maintained a decent conversation and still had fun dancing. The most distracting part was watching others dance (as well as watching people dance over Second Life) rather than being an active speaker and listener in the conversation. However, as discussed in chapter 10 of Technology Matters, people, particular those of the younger variety, are increasingly able to multitask, almost raised multitasking:

    "One often hears teachers and parents praising children for their ability to do several things at once, such as listen to music, do homework, respond to frequent telephone calls, and surf the Internet" (Nye 186).

    In fact, right now I am typing this blog comment while I watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force, answering text messages, cooking dinner, and helping my friend with homework. Yet, I still find myself able to focus on this entry. This really helped with being able to dance while carry on a conversation simultaneously.

  3. It was definitely much easier to dance and have a discussion in SecondLife than it was to do that in class. In SL, you don't have to think about what your physical body is doing or how it looks... you just click a button and then focus on talking. In class, I was trying to keep with the beat (we were dancing to latin music), while asking questions and reading... it was very difficult. Plus, I felt way more self-conscious because there were a couple students that didn't want to move... so it was awkward dancing around people that were just standing there. However, it was definitely fun and brought up our energy levels!

  4. I found dancing in class very distracting, there is a reason we typically don't dance in class. I would be much more inclined to attempt dancing outside of the classroom environment, chalk it up to years of socialization in which one is taught to be still in an academic setting.

  5. I love to dance but I too found it distracting to have a classroom discussion while dancing. I would like my mind as disengaged as possible when I'm dancing because then I can feel the music in the moment. Of course it was much easier to have a conversation in SL while my avatar was dancing. In the case of SL my mind and body were not competing for expression.

  6. I was skeptical at first, but after a few minutes of dancing like an avatar, I began to realize several other uses for second life. During Tuesdays class someone mentioned how dancing in Second Life can instruct those with very little or no dancing skills. I was also contemplating how we’re only years away from virtual gyms, virtual baking recipe sessions, virtual grocery and flower stores with real product delivery, and of course, a continuance of second life employed as an instructional device in the classroom.
    During the dance session, I found my ears more focused on the instructor’s words rather than attending class via S.L. In Second Life, the distractions of the users location are a hindrance, such as the mailman knocking, the train tracks squealing, traffic noise, the cat needing attention, hunger, and lastly, the cell phone.

    The idea of dancing like someone other than myself is certainly a stress reliever. Unfortunately, rules and regulations prohibit classroom dancing.

    From the perspective of Allucquere Rosanne Stone, “ the ambiguity of multiple personalities is not a sign of mental illness but a liberation from patriarchal structures of authority.” The War of Desire and Technology, -Technology Matters pg.202

  7. At first I was thinking, "are we really going to do this?" And sure enough, there we were dancing. After I started dancing, I kept wondering what I was going to do. I did the sway-side-to-side move, the one-finger move, and then I started copying the avatars in SL, because they seemed to know how to dance better than I could, lol.

    So at first, it was a bit hard to focus, of course, 'cause dancing in the classroom is sort of a new concept. But after that, my focus was on the discussion and it was class as usual.

  8. That was a great experience for all of us. It made me think in how society create us in a way where we don't feel as natural in situations like that as we should. Some times moral "rules" are more stronger that our human instincts, and we develop some uncomfortable reactions. Why are we afraid of been showed? Why do we have so much fear when someone is judging us? Maybe people don't feel as insecure in SL as in the natural world, because over there people can't see your natural reactions. There is no need to be spontaneous, you can erase, past, check information on google while you're there. And dancing, you can only be original in real life where you create your movements in real time and you can be spontaneous. Maybe we are so far from our natural reactions, that we should imitate our avatars, and be ridicules, so we can be free.

  9. So interesting! I am glad we did this experiment, or series of experiments culminating with us dancing in class today with no one dancing in SL. This is what I think: when we tried to have our books in our hands, read from them, and have the kind of focused discussion we would have had sitting down while dancing, it was really hard. To talk and dance, once I got over the initial weirdness/giddiness/self-consciousness, was one thing, but I couldn't do anything more complicated than a step-tap kind of move, and stopped talking (and maybe thinking!) when I tried anything fancier.

    I was really glad everyone danced, no matter how minimally (you know who you are!) and, yes, it was very strange to break the "rules" of bodily comportment and behavior in a classroom. When we started dancing to the second song today, something fascinating happened. We spontaneously shifted from one big conversation to 3 smaller ones. Maybe the music was louder, but I don't think so. The group I was in talked about what it would take for Theo Jensen's creatures to be truly fit the definition of a living organism, and what that entailed; see: That our group discussion evolved into smaller groups, smaller dancing groups!, is very interesting, and maybe not something that would have happened had we been sitting still.

    In terms of the avatar body vs the physical body: sitting in a class feels "real," albeit in a different way than dancing in a class, which maybe feels surreal, even on the third day of doing it. Having your avatar dance in SL makes it (the avatar) seem more real; animations do indeed breathe life into the visual representation of self in the virtual world. Maybe the avatar dancing is the approximate energy expenditure of dancing the step-tap kind of dance, what I could do without thinking about it, just moving to the beat? I could not and did not want to ignore my actual world dancing self, though, because it was just too much fun!

  10. It was a great fun experience for me dancing while listening to Ms Loire talk and teach us about SSS. It would be great if we could do the same in real life, dance and express what we feel while we learn. I felt shameless to dance in front of everybody, I tried all the moves I could without feeling watched. It would be cool if we all could do the same in the classroom, I think it would be fun and we would all realize how such a bad dancer I am in real life.