Evidence-based dancing tips

Are you going dancing this weekend? Researchers of Northumbria University in Newcastle have uncovered the secret to female dance floor success. It’s all about big hip-swings, leg moves and asymmetric arm waggles.

The dance floor is the perfect arena for disco queens to yield admiration and attract mates. But what makes a woman a good dancer? According to a new study published in Scientific Reports, hip movements are the key to female dancing success. Also, throw in some arms and legs.


Psychologists of Northumbria University used motion-capture technology to track the dance moves of 39 female university students. They then animated the dancers into featureless avatars, so that no other physical traits would affect the outcome of the study. The clips were shown to 57 heterosexual men and 143 heterosexual women, who were asked to rate the dancing on a scale from 1 to 7.

Hips don’t lie

Interestingly, certain dance movements impressed both men and women. Both sexes showed a strong preference for swaying hips, possibly because hip-swings signal femininity. As Shakira famously hypothesized in one of her songs: hips don’t lie.

In addition, dancers who threw in asymmetric arm and leg moves were also rated more positively by both male and female watchers. Whereas hip-swings indicate femininity, the independent movement of legs and arms could indicate good motor control. And who isn’t a sucker for fine motor skills?

The following clip shows an avatar of a female dancer rated as a ‘good’ dancer. Before you head out for a little bump and grind in the city center tonight, you might want to pay some attention to it.

What about men?

In an earlier study, Northumbria University examined male dancing success. They discovered that for men, the secret to attractive dancing is above the waist. Vigorous movements of the upper body – the torso, neck and head – could signal health and strength, the researchers suggested.

Some experts remain critical of the research. For example, a dancer and Oxford University researcher pointed out that the study is limited to Western perceptions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ dancing, and it fails to take into account cultural contexts.


Bekijk meer recent nieuws

Schrijf je in voor onze nieuwsbrief

Blijf op de hoogte. Meld je aan voor de nieuwsbrief van Univers.