|Open Simulator Community Conference 2018 Avatar Dance (I'm on the far right)|
Tragically, the Pulse Nightclub shooting occurred during the first offering of my graduate M&S class. Hearts sank. Grief settled in. Everyone was stunned and horrified that 49 innocent souls could be snuffed out so senselessly. They were in a dance club. One of the ways the Orlando community healed was to invite organizations to create videos with the theme Keep Dancing Orlando. These videos included the original call to action:
Soon after, many organizations followed suit to honor the fallen including the Orange County Sheriff's Department. The culmination involved making a heart shape with hands implying Love Wins!
The Orlando City soccer team also got into the act of rally the community while setting the bar for having fun at work too:
And at the University of Central Florida, staff from our College of Medicine led through producing the video below. These physicians know the value of dancing for health and wellness. Medical education is tough. The aspiring doctors-to-be bonded with their advisors, mentors, and teachers as a lasting tribute. Such leadership! Dancing is part of the healing arts.
Lots of things happened since 2016, but I continue to see articles and evidence about the value of dance. For some of us who have physical limitations that challenge our dancing ability, dancing as avatars in virtual worlds offer similar bonding and vicarious exercise. I have been interested in dancing mostly to care for my spirit to manage stress. As a faculty administrator, my own playfulness contributed to a culture of creativity and innovation among staff that helped us get through tough times as UCF grew so fast. I also have played video and computer games to help my brain recover from the effects of chemotherapy. Since my health has been challenged again, I am considering the impact of dancing on the immune system.
|Valentine's Day 2019|
The list of references below represents some journal articles that describe the value of dancing for health, especially for the brain. The use of fMRIs is creating greater insights for researchers. These studies are on my list to explore. Learning science, competency-based and transmedia learning, and information architectures are still my priorities to learn that will also involve 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). Of course, I am still a virtual worlds champion. What an honor to receive the 2019 Thinkerer lifetime achievement award from the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education group. My colleagues cannot know how much of a lifesaver they are including Dr. Selby Evans (Thinkerer), whom I want to be like when I grow up *smiles* (Selby is 89!).
Cross, E. S. (2018). Building a dance in the human brain: Insights from expert and novice dancers. In The Neurocognition of Dance (pp. 215-237). Routledge. Retrieved from: http://downloads.hindawi.com/journals/np/2018/5459106.pdf
Karpati, F. J., Giacosa, C., Foster, N. E., Penhune, V. B., & Hyde, K. L. (2015). Dance and the brain: a review. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1337(1), 140-146. Retrieved from: https://www.concordia.ca/content/dam/artsci/psychology/penhune/publications/karpati_nyas_15.pdf
Kirsch, L. P., Dawson, K., & Cross, E. S. (2015). Dance experience sculpts aesthetic perception and related brain circuits. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1337(1), 130. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4402020/
Rehfeld, K., Lüders, A., Hökelmann, A., Lessmann, V., Kaufmann, J., Brigadski, T., ... & Müller, N. G. (2018). Dance training is superior to repetitive physical exercise in inducing brain plasticity in the elderly. PloS one, 13(7), e0196636. Retrieved from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0196636
Saper, C. B. (2010). The dance of the perivascular and endothelial cells: mechanisms of brain response to immune signaling. Neuron, 65(1), 4-6. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0896627309010472
Sawami, K., Kimura, M., Kitamura, T., Kawaguchi, M., Furusumi, M., Suishu, C., ... & Hattori, S. (2019). Cognitive ability and psychological effectiveness of brain training dance robot therapy for elderly people. Retrieved from: https://www.oapublications.com/oap/uploads/articles/cognitive-ability-and-psychological-effectiveness-of-brain-training-dance-robot-therapy-for-elderly-people.pdf
|Collaborating with Drs. Stricker and Calongne in Virtual Harmony Nov 2018|
India's Vikram Lander did not have a happy ending on the Moon and researchers are still looking into what happened. It was so sad to see the disappointment among all the scientists and school children watching live on television as events unfolded. My curiosity about India led me to Netflix and Amazon Prime to look for documentaries, movies, and TV shows. I will always regret not going on a research trip to India as part of my doctoral program.
My search for Indian shows to watch created an interest in how dance is incorporated into Bollywood movies. Some dance numbers seemed a little corny to me, mostly in the romantic numbers. Most dance numbers were refreshing, uplifting, and made me happy until in some cases the plots resorted to death, destruction, and revenge. Before long, I discovered the star, Hrithik Roshan (fan site), an incredible actor and phenomenal dancer who also starred in a 2019 movie about a real-life mathematics teacher, Anand Kumar called Super 30. Kumar's philanthropic efforts and effective teaching strategies have made some dramatic, award-winning contributions. Notice of Super 30's movie's showing in Central Florida must have come and gone. Movie lovers and educators I know were not aware. Previously I had attended events on the topic of smart cities hosted by the Indian American Chamber of Commerce. Unfortunately, I am not currently involved in the UCF India Center. Perhaps that will change now.
Ghungroo Song that at first glance appeared so glamorous and sexualized especially for the female lead (Vaani Kapoor), my interest evaporated. This movie did not appear to reflect the challenges of average people and especially marginalized citizens. Meanwhile, as I watched a few Indian movies I would stop and look up as many terms, places, and historical facts to follow along. The movie Jodhaa Akbar revived my interest in history. The soundtrack was mesmerizing and I got it on iTunes just before Apple did away with the service *sigh* The dance scenes in the movie were epic. The whirling Sufis scene stayed with me as a means of mystical meditation.
So I was beginning to get a sense of the languages, geographical landscape, and even some of the religious considerations that India represents. Wow! So much to learn. I watched the Story of India documentary made by PBS and browsed the website for Q&A. As a global learning professional and someone who loved the movie Gandhi, I was aware that India had previously been colonized and involved Pakistan and Bangladesh. The only other Indian-related movie I really remember was another favorite, The Life of Pi.
|Virtual Juror Class Project 2011|
I will never forget when our VW class was able to make a field trip in Second Life to a location that represented a historical event in Indian history that I remember in my lifetime. When we looked for *any* educational activities that were taking place on the Second Life grid from Saudia Arabia there was no surprise that none could be found. None was found for South Africa too, but for India, we found a place that was made not for educational purposes, but for an apocalyptic, role-playing game.
|2011 Second Life Role Playing Game Environment|
Currently, my study of India includes awareness of recent social justice efforts within arts and media. India is set to possess the largest population in the world and it is the largest English speaking country despite high illiteracy. The caste system creates inequity for many to receive an education, which is why the movie Super 30 is so important for me. Inadequate infrastructure and large rural needs also are a challenge. Ironically, the ancient Hindu celebration called Holi, or Celebration of Spring, or Colors, or Love is for everyone regardless of socioeconomic status. The celebration involves playfully throwing colorful powders on anyone and everyone, practically anywhere during the brief phase. Emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation is also associated with Holi.
Then on September 21, 2019, the second music video for Roshan's War movie came out. Since then my rational scientific mind has been challenged not to jump up on tables to dance and sing every time I hear it, which is daily now. Immediately, I saw the connection to social equality. The choreography. The colors. The dance moves. The drum cadence. The camaraderie between Hrithik and Tiger (lead male stars). This is not war at all!! It is life celebrated wholeheartedly and physically. I cannot understand a word of Hindi, but it is clear this is a war of playful coopertition (cooperation + competition).
I had to see the War movie now, but where? Who could I get to go with me? Who would understand my fascination with India? Thankfully, Universal Studios in Orlando had a showing on October 2nd, 2019. Typically, I love to attend premiers with all the excited fans who dress up and wait for hours and cheer in the theater. Attending premiers makes watching so much more fun. I have also studied fandom as the intense learning that can take place among communities can be very useful. The discussions about the Lord of the Rings series were intense when those movies came out. Comparisons with the writings and their associations with history were powerful. I also consider myself a fan as a Browncoat (Firefly) and Screaming Firehawk (The Expanse).
Prince's 1999 (RIP). There was also a Y2K scare so the rollercoasters were tested 45 minutes to make sure they were operating normally. Thankfully, the War movie was captioned and it was first-rate, worthy of all its records. It is sad to me that my contemporaries are not in tune with how India is advancing in cinema and other areas.
We get so little international news in the U.S. The cost for parking was nearly triple than the cost of the movie but it was well worth it. I cannot wait to see War again or buy it. The full dance scenes were most enjoyable to me. Every little beleaguered, oxygen-deprived cell in my poor body was filled with joy. No wonder there are over a 100 million views of the music video. Congratulations!!! The Ghungroo song grew on me too and I really enjoy seeing all the fan videos making tributes and tutorials for how to learn the steps. I wish I could make a video game where players could actually learn the steps and the songs. These could be used for so much therapy, physical fitness, and team building across generations and societies. In late November, the War Movie became available on Amazon Prime.
Wait! What about the movie Super 30? Remember? The value of education? Studying all the time? Learning from everywhere, questioning everything? Being able to access books and resources? Finally, I found Super 30 available on Hotstar, a streaming service in India. Watched on my iPad and cried a lot. Just thinking about all of the obstacles makes me rethink my life. Oh how we need the appreciation for the quality of life we have. The availability of inexpensive goods, security, opportunity, open libraries, health care... I watched Super30 again the same day on my big TV with the sound system up loud. What a remarkable story.
Of course, I am following Anand Kumar on Twitter and praying for the safety of him and his remarkable school. Contrasting the dramatization of movies with known facts is a valuable exercise in critical thinking. The achievements are real. Wow. How I have dreamed of being able to help create rich media to show the beauty of mathematics and science. The Question Mark scene in Super30 reminded me of learning in virtual worlds where the "Art-of-the-Possible" abounds. I hope some filmmakers follow the graduates of the program and discover the impact these talented, resilient people have made. Congratulations to Hrithik Roshan too for taking the role to make the film. The starpower amplifies the impact. I am so glad I pay attention to advances in science. I look forward to living for the times when we have collaborative, transdisciplinary research that is mutually beneficial across borders to benefit our societies. Learning originates with us.
To learn more about the Super 30 program watch this Al Jezeera mini-documentary.