Dancing with the Stars

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After William Mangrum’s Composition 250, our class discussion about being a participant observer remained in my thoughts when I went to my Introductory to Dance class afterwards. When class began at 12:20 p.m, the students began to sit in our usual formation towards our instructors laptop for lecture on a new lesson on the dances. However, our instructor, Dr. Suzy DiSanto, announced she was going out of town for the weekend and she was handing the class to her friend, Jessica Perino .

The class murmured a “Have a good weekend,” to Dr. DiSanto and turned our attention to Jessica. She was the very definition of a social butterfly, she had everyone sit in a circle and introduce themselves. I looked around the circle, and noticed how the students sat in different positions. I saw about half the class laying on their stomachs while the other half sat crossed-legged, one girl was even stretching while Jessica was talking. For the first hour of class, Jessica was giving us her insight on what the “solar plexus” plays a big part  dancing. She described how it helps with jumping, spinning, bending, and movement for the whole body.

When the clock read 1:30, Jessica suggested a five minute water break so we can use the next 50 minutes to be active. Once everyone returned, she immediately broke us into 4 lines to “frolic” across the room as one big group as she described. After about 20 minutes jumping and spinning, Jessica suggested to show us on how to let our “inner “Shakira out” by teaching us a contemporary dance. Step by step into the routine, the class slowly grew self conscious about the moves. However, Jessica shouted to the whole class “don’t whole back, you’re all stars!” I noticed the girls moved their hips more and eventually the guys went along with the music. We ended the class with dancing our quick contemporary routine to “Empire” by Shakira.

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Psychology & Music: What?

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The study of the human mind and behavior first interested me when I took an Introduction in Psychology class in high school, researching mental disorders and a brief overview on what goes on in the human brain consciously and unconsciously intrigued me. Psychology is a very complex yet sensitive subject. It branches from the everyday human behavior, sympathetic patient research, and the complex research of experiments and that’s what captures my attention the most. Although I am a major in Psychology, I have a passion for music which led me to have a minor in it. The music community is a world all on its own, the melodies, rhythms, and songs can carry a musician into a time and place that they can make their own.

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Psychology and music may seem to be an unusual pair, but it was tied perfectly in the movie, “The Soloist”. It became one of my favorite movies after I understood how music can change the severity of a mental disorder. The movie portrayed a street musician named Nathanial Ayers, with a tremendous talent for the cello and diagnosed with schizophrenia. Followed by making an unlikely friendship with a newspaper reporter named Steve Lopez. I believe the concept of schizophrenia was presented in a positive way because the storyline only focused on the amazement of the amount of love Ayers had for music. He never even believed he was schizophrenic until Lopez pointed it out to him and he did not want any treatment at all after he found out. Although he had the characteristics of disorganized thoughts and behaviors, he was happy to be on his own on Los Angeles streets, he had great amounts of appreciation for the small things he had in life. Being schizophrenic only added to his personality as a musician.

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While attending an orchestra performance, Nathaniel entered his own little world of visions of what he believed the music looked like in comparison to what it sounded like. In concluding the movie, Steve Lopez stated that others believed, “the simple act of being someone’s friend can change his brain chemistry, improve his functioning in the world but it won’t change him entirely.” I loved how the movie demonstration not only portrayed the qualities of schizophrenia, psychology and music overall but also gave it a new perspective to be viewed at.