Mirrors of grace

Imitation is the starting point of learning anything new. My aim with Mirrors Of Grace is to highlihght the power of imitation, to show how one small thing can turn into a worldwide phenomenon and find a culture of its own.
Dance is often learned from imitation as well, and ballet is one example that has found it's way into almost every part of the world as a highly esteemed form of dance.
Timeframe : 3 weeks

project overview

Imitation is the first step towards an outbreak. It is the point where everything starts. We begin to imitate other people before we can even process the fact that we are going to. This happens because of the development of mirror neurons that are present in our brain.

Learning too, comes from imitation. From early on, we are taught to replicate others movements in order to learn how to do them ourselves. Although we mostly do them voluntarily, it is proven that we involuntarily imitate others' actions on a daily basis. This also makes us feel more comfortable in uncomfortable settings.

Dancers too are told to mirror people or videos as a form of learning. As they start to repeat a movement, when they later watch someone else do the same, the activity in their brain increases since their mirror neaurons fire at a higher speed, and connect the movement to how it would physically feel. As a dancer, you know this is when you have learned how to do it.

design thinking tools

With a very broad breif given to us, the main task was narrowing down the river of ideas that were flowing through me. The best way to do this was through a few design thinking exercises - a lotus diagram, mind maps and some basic research.

The first thing I did was read a book called Deviate - The Science of Seeing Differently by Beau Lotto, which truly opened my senses to a new way of thinking all together. It is also what helped me get something out of my ideas and put them together.

After staring at the words for hours and watching videos on topics that I thought combined some of my interests, I decided to look into human behaviour and neuroscience, purely because of my interest on how we learn or rather, how we learn to learn.

Further, my experience and interest in ballet made me question my own learning process and I just became very intrigued with how the form started off being practiced in just one town and spread to the whole world. I wanted to know why.

some insights generated through research

  • Imitation is not an innate behavior, it is learned by babies in their first few months. Contrary to what I thought, babies learn to imitate other people based on watching other people imitate them.
  • When someone mimics you in a good way, it communicates a kind of pleasure that you get from interacting with the other person.
  • Due to the rigidity in terms of the rules and techniques of ballet, it is almost essential for a dancer to watch a movement done the way it's supposed to, to be able to do it themselves.
  • "... the acitivity of mirror neurons correlates with action understanding."
  • The more people tend to imitate each other, the more they are ableto develop an empathetic relationship.
  • We imitate people who are important to us, who embody what we most admire or want to be.
  • Greater activity is found in the brain mirror system when we observe movements that we know how to perform.


I first made basic digital sketches for the elements I required for the installation. I also tried to sketch out the mechanism of the movement that I would later carry out using an arduino.

My next steps were to physically make the ballerinas and the layout. For this I used wires, net fabric, handmade paper, wooden slabs and broken mirrors.