Learning and practicing dance phrases with and without a mirror: A comparison study



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Mirrors are commonplace in dance studios; however, there has been no research that has looked at when the mirrors are most beneficial during the learning of dance phrases. Mirror visual feedback has been found to increase neural activity for attention and cognitive control (Deconick et al. 2015) as well as enhance performance and induce neuroplasticity (Rjosk et al. 2017). Mixed results have been observed with the use of mirrors during learning. Dearborn and Ross (2006) and Radall and Adame (2003) found a benefit of mirrors for dancers, and power clean movements were better with the use of mirrors (Sewall et al., 1988). However, mirrors were not found to improve balance or Pilates movements (Notamicola et al. 2014; Lynch et al. 2009). The varied results could be due to experience levels or the type of movement activity. The aim of this study was to determine if mirrors were more beneficial at the demonstration and explanation (DEMO) or practice (PRAC) phase for learning the dance phrase. Twenty experienced dancers were randomly placed in one of three groups. Group one (N=7, age M=21, Dance years M=14 +-2) had DEMO with mirror, PRAC no mirror. Group two (N=7, age M=20, Dance years M= 8+-5) had DEMO no mirror, PRAC with mirror). Group three (N=6, age M=20, Dance years M=9 +-5) had DEMO with mirror, PRAC with mirror. Videos of each participant’s dance performance of the dance phrase were blind reviewed by four independent experienced dance instructors for movement accuracy and timing/musicality errors on scales of one to five, with five equal to no errors and one is equal to seven or more errors. The results of a Kruskal-Wallis one-way ANOVA test were not significant for accuracy (H= 3.53, 2 d.f., p= .171) or errors (H=4.55, 2 d.f., p= .103). Results showed group one, which used the mirror only during demonstration and explanation to have the highest accuracy, while group two, which used the mirror only during practice, showed the best timing. Group three, which used the mirror during the demonstration and explanation phase and the practice phase (similar to traditional dance training), had the most errors in accuracy and the second-most errors in timing. These data suggest there may be learning benefits from removing the mirror during either the demonstration phase of the practice phase as well as that additional research is warranted to determine the effect of experience level and learning strategies used with and without mirrors present.



Health Sciences, Education, Dance, Health Sciences, Rehabilitation and Therapy