Why Do We Dance?
I don’t know what prompted this post.
Maybe a song on the radio on my way to work. Perhaps dropping my children at parties. Maybe the energy of tribal dancers. It could be this good post by Savvy Raj. Or the movie La La Land. Or Zorba the Greek.
Or maybe just because I wonder why we dance.
Is it evolutionary?
According to some, dancing was a way for our prehistoric ancestors to bond and communicate, particularly during tough times. Researchers examined the DNA of a group of dancers and non-dancers and found that the dancers shared two genes associated with a predisposition for being good social communicators. The better you groove at the grotto ball, the better your chances of surviving all.
Does it relax us?
One study showed that dance, in particular, can decrease anxiety and boost mood more than other activities. Researchers assigned patients with anxiety disorders to spend time in one of four settings: a modern-dance class, an exercise class, a music class, or a math class (math - really?) The dance class significantly reduced anxiety – more so than the other activities. So they say when you sway your troubles melt away.
Is it a way of thinking?
Scientists had people dancing and then doing problem-solving. Different sorts of dancing helped with different sorts of problem-solving. People engage in improvised kinds of dance say it helps with divergent thinking – where there's multiple answers to a problem. When they engage in structured dance it helps their convergent thinking – trying to find the single answer to a problem. A case of embodied cognition - you engage the brain while dancing in the rain.
Do we need to dance?
Some say dance is essential to our survival as human beings. It serves as an adaptive response to our environment. Without the ability to notice, recreate, and become patterns of movement, without the impulse to move, humans would not be able to learn how to sense the sources of their wellbeing—to people, to ideas, to places. Dancing is essential to the rhythm of bodily becoming. We shake, rattle and roll into who we are.
What moves us to move?
Dance is a way we express ourselves when words are insufficient. Our exuberance in the moment, the joy we feel over love, our determination in the face of adversity, the passionate fire of our youth and the peacefulness of our more graceful years - all are expressed to the melody and rythm of a waltz, or a tango, or a jive.
Maybe dancing is a celebration of life.
Maybe dancing is a life of celebration.
Maybe dancing is celebration.
Maybe dancing is life.