Bird Dance

Autumn is when starlings and other species of birds fly together in the early evenings and give displays of graceful movement that challenge the greatest choreographers. You can see a video of one of these so-called murmurations by clicking at http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/11/starling-flock/

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A recent production by the Rambert Dance Company takes these kinds of behaviour by birds and other animals to be the theme for a new production, The Comedy of Change.

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The choreographer is M Cunningham, the composer J Anderson.  and a video is at http://www.rambert.ork.uk/unmasked/the_comedy_of_change

Three theories attempt to explain the behaviour when starlings fly together in flocks:

–  each bird tries to avoid being at the edge where it is vulnerable from hungry predators

– each bird copies its neighbour and as they become squashed close together small changes in speed and direction become distorted, forming ripples familiar in self-organised chaotic systems

– together, the birds keep warm and find food.

I suspect the Rambert dancers have different motives. On the video Stephen Keynes explains what they might be.

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