Dexterity and Its Development

By Mark L. Latash; Michael T. Turvey et al. | Go to book overview
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Dexterity in Cascade Juggling

Peter J. Beek A. (Tony) A. M. van Santvoord Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

In contrast to Bernstein, who approached the problem of dexterity by developing a number of hierarchical levels under which different skills with different phylogenetic ages are subsumed, we examine the problem of dexterity in the context of a single, specific skill, cascade juggling. The two approaches are, of course, complementary, and we are interested in seeing how our theoretical and empirical findings about juggling compare to the more general theoretical framework proposed by Bernstein.

There are many reasons why cascade juggling provides an appropriate context for an examination of dexterity. We mention five. The first and foremost reason is that juggling, as was recognized by Bernstein (essay 7), requires a high degree of dexterity. The "sleight of hand" demonstrated in juggling has captured the attention and imagination of people for thousands of years and continues to do so. The old French word for juggler, prestidigitateur ("he who is nimble and swift with his fingers"), nicely illustrates the primary attraction of juggling as a performing art. It is further intriguing to read that the root of the Russian word for dexterity (lovkost) is lov ("catch"). Doesn't it follow then that a game of catch should be the basis of a scientific study of dexterity?

A second reason is, given the occasion of the publication of Bernstein's book on dexterity, we deem it an apt tribute to Russian culture to examine the ideas of one (if not the) founder of modern movement science in the context of a motor skill at which the great Russian performers of the celebrated Russian circus schools, most notably Ewgenji Biljauer, Serge Ignatov, and Gregor Popovich, made a lasting impact. Ewgenij Biljauer was known for his extraordinary ball

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