Concept and choreography: Zrinka Šimičić Mihanović
Dance: Iva Hladnik, Ivana Pavlović, Zrinka Šimičić Mihanović
Music: Sven Pavlović
This work is inspired by reflections on perception of dance, senses involved in that perception, kinesthetic empathy, as well as by research on the activity of mirror neurons. These are the neurons found in primates and humans. They fire when we perform an intentional action; intention thus plays an important role in activation of mirror neurons. The interesting discovery is that the same neurons fire while observing someone else performing a movement or an intentional action. Activity of mirror neurons explains our great potential for imitation, understanding and predicting the intention, and thus our capability of learning, empathy and social interaction.
This kind of neurons acts at the level of sensation rather than interpretation. Our empathy is therefore faster than our rational understanding. The implication is that observation and the experience of body movement work at the same level.
The activity of mirror neurons might be helpful in explaining the empathy we feel, as well as the kinesthetic experience we gain, while we observe dancers moving. However, is it the observer’s experience which is crucial in this process? Or is it the dancer’s virtuosity? Is it easier to experience and connect to the movement that we have experienced ourselves or to the one that is completely unknown to our body and which our body cannot perform? How does the visual experience affect the kinesthetic experience? What is the role of music in that process? And finally, what is the meaning that each observer inscribes in what s/he sees?
These are some questions that led us through this creative process. The role of an observer in it is obvious. The presence of an audience, their active watching, as well as the traces they leave after each show, on pieces of paper they found on their seats, gave us some of the answers. Each new performance is a chance for us to get new answers, to better understand why and how we watch dance.
This project was co-produced by NANO Gallery and the City Center for Culture ‘Maksimir’ and supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia and Zagreb City Office for Education, Culture and Sports.
The premiere was given at NANO Gallery in March 2012. The project was also presented at “Ganz New Festival: The Festival of Developmental Theater“ (Student Center, Zagreb, Croatia) and at the IETM Autumn Plenary meeting (Zagreb, Croatia).
“…those parts are extremely interesting as the author managed to change the perception of the audience. Silence on one hand and sound on the other really bring relaxation, piece and respite from the terror of constant visual input. By hardly perceptible light the bodies are dematerialized, but still their presence, even though invisible, becomes very real by other senses. What comes next is the presence of tiny lights attached to the dancers’ bodies. They give us an impression, coherently with the theme, of pure electrical impulses in motion, with a poetic associative spectrum going from fireflies, starry sky to the image of light impulses provoked by pressing closed eyes…“
“Oscillations“ is an interesting and precisely structured piece than opened up different themes about relationship movement-performer- audience, offering also different directions of their interpretation.“
Iva Nerina Sibila, PLESNA SCENA.hr, 27 March 2012
 In his article “Making sense of Mirror Neurons“ Lawrence Shapiro explains his research on mirror neurons as part of a distinct sensory system responsible for the perception of an action, which uses receptors of other sensory systems (primarily visual and audio sensory systems).
Photography & video: Jasenko Rasol