Research highlight

Human behaviour: She’s the greatest dancer

Scientific Reports

February 10, 2017

The female dance moves that are the most highly rated are pinpointed in a study in Scientific Reports this week. The authors 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, Nick Neave and colleagues 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.

doi: 10.1038/srep42435

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