We know that ballroom dance is beneficial physically, mentally and socially. But what is it, exactly, that makes us like to dance? Beyond the tangible physical, mental and social benefits, why does the movement and the expression of dance give us such pleasure?
Now, here at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, we’d probably say we like to dance because it’s fun, it’s social, it builds confidence and it’s such a healthy activity. Scientific American magazine offers a number of more, uh, scientific reasons. Here’s what Scientific American says: “So, why is dance pleasurable?”
“First, people speculate that music was created through rhythmic movement—think: tapping your foot. Second, some reward-related areas in the brain are connected with motor areas. Third, mounting evidence suggests that we are sensitive and attuned to the movements of others’ bodies, because similar brain regions are activated when certain movements are both made and observed. For example, the motor regions of professional dancers’ brains show more activation when they watch other dancers compared with people who don’t dance.
“This kind of finding has led to a great deal of speculation with respect to mirror neurons—cells found in the cortex, the brain’s central processing unit, that activate when a person is performing an action as well as watching someone else do it. Increasing evidence suggests that sensory experiences are also motor experiences. Music and dance may just be particularly pleasurable activators of these sensory and motor circuits. So, if you’re watching someone dance, your brain’s movement areas activate; unconsciously, you are planning and predicting how a dancer would move based on what you would do.”
Dance Magazine also offers insights into why humans love watching dance performances – adding bonding, the love of a good story, emotional engagement and the magical combination of dance & music, to the list of physical / neural impacts of ballroom dance. LiveScience.com offers evidence that a love of dance may have been a prehistoric evolutionary advantage, check out their research summary here. And an exciting article in Psychology Today magazine suggests that, “dance is in everyone. There is no escape from it. You can’t say that you can’t, don’t, didn’t or won’t. The only question is how. How are you dancing? How are you going to dance? Under what influences? With what inspiration? Beholden to what impediments? In response to what goals, goads, and gods? Or maybe there is a second question—why, as in: Why have you stopped?”
See? We can’t help but enjoy dancing! It taps into something at a cerebral & unconscious level. And t helps us And for the best in ballroom dance instruction – all styles of dance, from the foxtrot to the rumba to the tango and more – contact Fred Astaire Dance Studios and take a group class or private lesson. You’ll soon have others tapping their toes and up on the dance floor!