A new study has purported to objectively show what makes a man a good dancer — and by extension, read "honest signals of a man's reproductive quality, in terms of health, vigor or strength." How related are they?
The study took place in Britain and Germany, which may not have particularly impressive homegrown dance traditions — unless you're all about the Schuhplattler, that folk dance predicated on men smacking their own thighs and feet to attract women. But they have lots of immigrants and children of immigrants who come from places where various rhythmic dances are a natural and integrated part of — wait, did I just impose a subjective standard of what makes a good dancer? Sorry. This is science.
Here's how the study was conducted:
British and German researchers filmed 19 men, aged 18-35, with a 3-D camera system as they danced to a basic rhythm, and then mapped their movements onto featureless, white, gender-neutral humanoid characters, or avatars.
A group of 37 heterosexual women was asked to rate the dance moves of the avatars, which gave no indication of the men's attractiveness, to help identify the key movement areas of the bodies that decided if their dancing was "good" or "bad."
The results showed that the women tended to prefer "large and varied movements involving the neck and the trunk," as well as the "speed of the right knee movements." We imagine the women were turned on by something like this:
But this study was clearly not just about women deciding what constituted a good dancer. It was also, as stated by one of the researchers, suggesting a connection between good dancing and good sex. (Or, reproductively advantageous sex.)
They're not the first to make that link, of course. And who could watch this without wanting to hit that?
But seriously, if there's anything the past near-year of salsa classes has taught me, being a "good dancer" is about more things than just "large and varied movements involving the neck and the trunk." I've learned to see beyond the seductive right knee swivel. There's the non-verbal communication, the sense of generosity and mutuality indicating that this is not a one-man show. There's the trial and error and the eventual groove, when things just work.
We're still talking about dancing, right?