Re: Drill, Dancin', Marchin' <debate>

Elaine Hills (ehills@SOLEIL.ACOMP.USF.EDU)
Thu, 15 Feb 1996 20:18:24 -0500

John and All,

Is it fair to say that drill is always oppressive, or am I missing some
context here? To put oppression in the terms of Marilyn Frye, I would
not say that those who participate in drill are necessarily in a cage,
or confined by forces or barriers that are unavoidable. Aren't most
circumstances where drill occurs avoidable by choice of the people
participating? Or is drill being considered coercive in all instances,
even when to stress teamwork or as a release, as Ralph points out, as in
much dancing in Asia?


On Thu, 15 Feb 1996, Ralph L Holloway wrote:

> On Thu, 15 Feb 1996, John McCreery wrote:
> > drill=military=hierarchical, oppressive, coercive=something
> > detestable vs.
> > dance=civilian=egalitarian, free, spontaneous=something
> > desirable
> >
> > underlying the first spontaneous reactions we've heard. These
> > have been countered by ethnographic examples, chiefly the
> > Hopi, in which something apprently recognized as dance by
> > those most directly concerned is neither free nor spontaneous.
> > But other examples are easy to come by, Asian dance is full of
> > forms that are rigidly specified, taught and practiced
> > hierarchically organized groups, in which felt spontaneity is
> > rooted in repetitive practice until the form is so thoroughly
> > internalized that the dancer doesn't have to stop and think --
> > precisely the sort of outcome aimed at by military drill (plus, of
> > course, a vast array of martial arts).
> I appreciate John's astuteness in depeicting the political polarities
> that have appeared in this dance-drill debate, and I thank him for the
> reminders that much of dance, particularly in Asia, is pretty much
> "drill". Even belly dancing, at least as practiced by some professional
> Middle Eastern women, has required a great deal of training, practice,
> and needless to say, muscular control, which hardly detracts (IMHO)
> from its beauty and sensualism.
> I 've "drilled" and "danced", and incidentally, you might also talk about
> music at some point here, because there is a lot in there that melds
> training and "freedom (i.e., drill and expression), and as a trombonist
> and trumpeter with regard to classical music and classical jazz, lucky is
> the one who has both (I don't, and I'm not a professional, but I love the
> act...).
> What has been missing from these discussions is something that is a
> constant and universal, and that is none of this occurs in a neurological
> vacuum. Both dance and drill involve (and music too) involve a
> tremendous amount of participation of the striatal complex and the
> cerebellum, the latter in particular mediating proprioception. What is
> missed in these discussions is the realization that there is a variable
> amount of feedback from these structures and the cerebral cortex through
> the hypothalamus and the limbic system. Highly repetitive acts can become
> *addictive* and *enjoyable* and there is also the matter of *vicarious*
> experience in which one can internalize the emotional power of someone
> else's actions by internally mimicking and copying these sequences. So
> too, I am convinced, can sheer cognitive activity, such as solving a
> mathematical puzzle or problem, or finishing a dissertation or erecting
> some hugh conceptual artefact, or even making a splendid stone tool hand
> axe, all these have two-way connections with outr emotional centers.
> In this regard, people are highly variable, as we have certainly
> discovered as teachers. So for some, the actual engagements of their
> nervous systems may or may not have some actual enjoyable dimension
> as when participating in "drill" or "dance". What I'm really suggesting
> here is that NO, NO, these are not polarities, they are a continuum of
> experience.
> Peacefully,
> Ralph Holloway