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Study identifies high quality female dance movements

9th February 2017

The female dance moves that are the most highly rated are pinpointed in a new study in Scientific Reports this week following research by two academics from Northumbria University in Newcastle.

The authors; Dr Nick Neave and Dr Kristofor McCarty, found that in women the degree of hip swing and asymmetric movements of the thighs and arms contribute independently to a perceived higher quality of dance.

Using 3D motion-caption, the researchers recorded 39 women whilst they danced to a basic rhythm provided by a drum beat. The authors rendered their movement patterns onto computer avatars, thereby retaining their distinguishing movements, but removing all information about their individual appearance. 57 men and 143 women were then asked to rate the dancing ability of each of the 39 avatars based on a 15 second section of video footage. The authors compared the ratings to quantified measurements of the dancers’ moves.

The authors found that three types of movements made independent contributions to perceived female dance quality. Higher ratings were awarded to dances that involved greater hip swing, more asymmetric thigh movements and an intermediate level of asymmetric arm movements, compared to the rest of the sample. The authors suggest that movements that distinguish high-quality dancers may have a functional significance. For example, hip swing might be an emphatically feminine trait, and the ability to move limbs independently of each other, may attest to well-developed motor control.

Dr Neave said: “A number of studies have looked at traits that can attract potential partners but there has been little research into the form and significance of attractive dance and what role it has in human courtship and partner selection. To help us understand what dance movements can convey to potential partners we need to know which dance movements are appealing. The next stage would be to look at what these movements signify, we suspect that they all form honest cues to reproductive potential, health and personality.” 

Previous research carried out by the academics looked at male dance quality and found that better male dancers used more movements of their upper body, they went on to find that stronger men were perceived as being the best dancers.  

The research is available to view at  http://nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/srep42435       

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