Dreiva for birds

Starting in the mid-1970s, Acem developed a form of dance called “dreiva”. Though thought to facilitate meditative processes, it was miles away from anything that might traditionally be associated with meditative dance. Its music was disco, soul and funk, its movements often wild and highly expressive. Well, this bird isn’t exactly dancing dreiva, but it’s surprisingly close:

Another association: Lately I’ve been reading the Chinese author Mo Yan’s novel “Life and death are wearing me out”, seeing 50 years of Chinese history from the point of view of a man reincarnated as a donkey, an ox, a pig, a dog, and a monkey. Apart from the monkey, they are all described with all the subjective and emotional richness that is usually reserved for descriptions of human beings. Anybody doubt the sheer pleasure of this dancing parrot?

Which brings me into yet another association, to the over 2000 year old Daoist mystic Zhuangzi, who was walking along the Hao river with his logician friend Huizi and exclaiming admiration for the enjoyment of the fish swimming below. Huizi said, “You’re not a fish — how do you know what fish enjoy?” Zhuangzi said, “You’re not me, so how do you know I don’t know what fish enjoy?” In the end, Zhuangzi concluded simply: “I know it by standing here beside the Hao river.”

It seems obvious to me that this 22 year old bird enjoys dancing dreiva! But am I sensitive or am I just projecting my own joy onto the bird?


  1. Grunde Waag

    I like the first move with the wings, but I guess I have to grow some feathers before I can copy it.

    It dances because it gets a snack afterwards, I know it by sitting here in front of my laptop.

  2. Josefina

    Halvor, I share your impression or projection that the bird is thoroughly enjoying.

    Some techniques for personal development use the music as means of integration with the world around us, rescuing the bond that binds us to life.

    For the bird this link with life seems quite natural.

  3. eirikj

    Would the bird know that Halvor enjoys dreiva by watching him dance dreiva? Probably – birds are acutely sensitive to auditive stimuli, and this bird at least seems to rock on his roost. I have also read Darwinistic theorising on the adaptive value of play among animals. Would the bird know that Grunde enjoyed writing the last sentence of his response? Doubtful (no adaptive value there). But I did.

  4. Grunde

    This reminds of David Rothenberg. He has written a book called Why birds sing. I don’t know what he’s writing, but you can hear some sound clips and watch a movie where he’s playing his clarinet with some birds: http://www.whybirdssing.com/laughingthrush.mov It sounds like the bird really is interacting with the sound from the clarinet.

    He has also made music with whales. Here’s a duet with clarinet and a Humpback Whale. http://terrain.org/columns/21/Rothenberg_Clarinet_Humpback.mp3

  5. Odd Busmundrud

    Research shows that animals, particularly birds but also elephants, can follow the beat in music. http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2009/04/30-01.html?etoc

    Until Frostie came along, the most famous bird doing this was the sulphur crested cockatoo Snowball, who particularly loved dansing to the Back Street Boys.

  6. Josefina

    Woooow! Sounds like a beautiful dialogue between different species. It makes me want to read the book by David Rothenberg.

    It comes to my mind that just as the singing of birds has inspired poets and musicians for centuries, could it occur the same the other way round?

  7. Thanks for all the wonderful comments! Looks like we’re having a great dialogue too, and that we are indeed enjoying it.

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