Dance Dance

There has been much positive discussion recently around the recent push to use “Dance Dance Revolution” in schools as an exergame — a game that gives kids healthful physical exercise, by engaging in play that involves their entire body. Why not have fun while fighting our national epidemic of child-obesity?

But I think these people are missing an opportunity. As long as you’ve got kids playing DDR in schools, why not use this as an opportunity to teach them other valuable skills? For example, a variant of this healthful game could be employed in science classes, but with content up on the display that takes a young learner through the principles of Darwin’s theories of evolution and the origin of species.

Of course you’d have to change the name to something more appropriate like “Dance Dance Evolution”. Think of the benefits of such a game. While exerting herself to dance according to various ever-changing patterns, the inquisitive young student could be “leveling up” by advancing through the species, starting with humble amoebae, rapidly progressing through the invertebrate and amphibious states, and finally arriving at the pinnacle of Darwinian evolution — the primates.

Think about how appropriate this is. The student learns all about survival of the fittest while becoming ever more fit. It doesn’t get much more poetic than that.

Of course some parents might object to subjecting their impressionable young children to something as cold and heartless as evolution. After all, nature can be very cruel, and some families might prefer a friendlier alternative. For such folks, it should be possible to come up with a different educational exercise game, one that does not conflict with their happy ideas about people being the center of the universe.

For such people, we could provide “Dance Dance Revelation”. In this joyfully educational game, children would lose weight by jumping around in various ever more challenging step patterns, while trying to “level up” to increasing states of enlightenment. In the Christian version, children could start out in a state of sin, and gradually exercise their way to increasing states of beautitude, eventually reaching sainthood.

Again, the dance-as-exercise metaphor is quite apt. The student achieves enlightenment while literally becoming lighter.

Of course the apparent tension between these two concepts is an entirely Western problem. For the Hindus, things would be much easier. We could just make a single game and package it as both “Dance Dance Evolution” and “Dance Dance Revelation” — two for the price of one. In either case you would start out as an amoeba and gradually work your way up.

One could argue that James Cameron had pretty much the same synthesis in mind. “Avatar” is essentially a story about Revelation brought about by Evolution. Or maybe Evolution brought about by Revelation (I think one of these is the 3D version).

That’s probably why the Vatican gave the film such a negative review. If you go around claiming that one can achieve a state of higher spiritual consciousness by placing one’s faith in evolution, you’re not going to make a lot of friends in Rome.

I’ve seen a lot of people dancing around these questions, and getting pretty worked up in the process.

But that’s a different kind of dancing entirely. Maybe if they get worked up enough, they’ll lose a few pounds.

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