Part 1 [28/12/2021]
IS DANCING AN ABNORMAL REPETITIVE BEHAVIOUR?
Rocking, huddle, crouch, floating limb, bouncing, twirling, spinning, head weaving or picking at nothing and even dancing are names that researchers have given to stereotypical movements developed by macaques in laboratories. These stereotyped behaviours are defined as acts without any obvious goal or function which are being repeated over and over again. They appear when animals are deprived of their social contacts or when they are closed in inappropriate spaces, such as circuses, laboratories or ZOOs. Stereotyped behaviour can occur in a large variety of species from cannaries to polar bears to humans. Some animals may spend up to 70% of their time pacing or executing other stereotype.
Why do they develop these behaviours and what are their effects?
Research showed that it may be the rhythmicity what organism finds rewarding. In humans, children who showed head-banging behaviour were described as prone to other forms of rhythmic activity and as very responsive to music. Other studies have indicated that stereotypic behaviour in animals produces a 'trance-like' state and is linked to reduced awareness of the environment.
When looking at these animals you could think about GIFs, repetitive moving images that are massively exposed on social networks and fascinate us. The rhythmic movements including transfer of weight when walking or bouncing the head in elephants may remind us of a rock concert or a night club. Yet, it is quite agreed that the stereotyped behaviour is a sign of distress and in many cases it may be self-damaging.
So, what about dancing?
It is clear that it englobes a large specter of activities and appears in many contexts and may be driven by all the kinds of needs, such as the desire to move, to share time and space with others, to be together, to bring the sensible to the rough life, or to be watched… And there are many similarities with ARBs, in appaerance and in motivation : dancing has no apparent practical sense, it is often rhythmic, it can be repetitive and is often executed in order to escape the environment, the reality, to be carried away, somewhere else. Is it a kind of ARB of a small intensity, allowing the individuals to cope with their environnement? Would we be dancing if we had ideal life conditions? We don’t have a scientific response, we don’t even have one definition of dance.
But we believe that dance can become an ARB. With our new creation we will do our best to approach the astonishing, hypnotising and weird behaviours of non-human creatures in distress. In the upcoming blogs, we will share with you our inspirations, questions, images and strategies used in the creative process of our new dance piece inspired by Abnormal Repetitive Behaviours.
And if you wish to go further concerning the animals and ARBs please, scroll below the video.
ABNORMAL REPETITIVE BEHAVIOURS OF LABORATORY MACAQUES
The stereotypes of non-human primates are divided into two categories: deprivation stereotypes and cage stereotypes. Deprivation stereotypes are also referred to as self-directed because they are performed on the individual's own body. For example, self orality describes non-nutritive sucking of an animal on one or more parts of its body (e.g. fingers, tail, or genitalia). Rocking, huddle, and crouch are abnormal postures. Self abuse refers to self injurious behaviour, such as biting, scratching, or head banging. The term floating limb describes a phenomenon which involves an animal's limb appearing to move on its own. This surprises the animal which will then threaten and attack the limb. A salute is another abnormal posture which involves the animal placing a hand in front of its face, palm out, with one or more fingers pressed against the eyeball. Deprivation stereotypes are usually seen in monkeys that have been separated from their mothers and raised in social isolation. These abnormal behaviours are thought to be analogous to the normal behaviours seen in infant and juvenile monkeys. Self orality in isolates is considered to be analogous to nipple sucking in infants raised with their mothers. Self clasp is related to mother clinging or clasping. Self abuse is considered to be the only outlet for these animals' frustration.
Repetitive locomotion stereotypes include pacing, jumping in place, and somer-saulting and are considered to be the result of the living environment of an animal. All of these stereotypes are active, involving dynamic, whole body movements. Dancing refers to a back and forth quadrupedal movement which is distinct from pacing or spinning.
Three categories of stereotypic behaviour seen in laboratory macaques
- head banging
Repetitive Locomotion Stereotypes
picking at nothing