Why do we dance?
You enter a friend's house, he starts talking to you, offers to drink while you appreciate the attention and observe the decoration. And there, in the middle of one of the walls, a crooked picture.
Some of us, no matter how hard we try, cannot stop ourselves from constantly looking at that painting, with an irresistible desire to put it right.
Because we humans like harmony. And for many of us, harmony is balance, balance, predictability, symmetry and synchrony.
We always find an article explaining thousand reasons why it’s good to dance: it’s an ideal sport to be in shape, it allows you to get new friends, it provides confidence, it’s relaxing, it’s an aid against shyness, it allows you to acquire better posture, it’s a workout for the mind.
Surely, all of that is true, those are consequences, they’re practical purposes. They’re Cartesian effects for those who need premeditated reasons to dance.
But, in the same way that we couldn't stop looking at that crooked painting, the same thing happens to us when we see someone dancing:
We surprise ourselves with our gaze fixed on them. Observing their movements, we delight in the undulation of their bodies. Their legs provoke their hips, their feet seem to fly. Their torsos twist and throw their arms. The movements extend to our hands and explode at the tips of our fingers with a brilliant energy that makes us vibrate. The dancers' heads add the finishing touch, emphasizing the movements. Or better yet, despising them with disdain, just as a Greek god would be when hailed by us, his human admirers.
And we fell platonically in love. Or not so platonically, but, yes of so much beauty, so much movement, so much airspace combed with body and hair. We fell in love with those gazes at infinity and most importantly, with that fusion with music, with the feeling that she took possession of them and that their rhythm is what moves them.
Not without reason many love stories begin in discotheques and dance places. Dance is a language of the body, a mode of expression. It is a way of saying: “This is who I am. I wouldn't know how to express it in words, but this is who I am inside, and that's the music that makes me vibrate. ”
And the observers identify themselves, they recognize themselves. They predict the movements, they’re surprised. And, from time to time, they’re bewitched and fall in love.
Dancing in sync with someone is like looking into their eyes. Without any explanation, without any premeditated reason, the heart beats faster.
Researchers found that people who watched ballet had a muscular response in their arms. Which sounds quite intriguing since they are not actively participating in the dance. Even so, apparently, watching ballet generates a mirror neuronal response in the audience, which causes a subconscious muscular reaction in the arms.
According to the Washington Post, scientists consider that we tend to connect other people's movements in our own somatosensory system, which makes us feel the emotions we perceive in others as if they were our own.
For this reason, when feeling similar sensations, people who are not dancing enjoy seeing dance as if they were doing it.
Dancing is an art, it is a form of expression and communion. We express our joy with dancing, our friendship, our belonging to a group. We also express our sadness and evacuate it.
We express our love with dance. And some of us express our feelings much better with dancing than with words.
But, dance is not only communion and expression, because we also surprise ourselves dancing alone. Sometimes uncontrolled as seen in comedy movies, just before someone enters the room and embarrasses us, but, more often in a subtle way, slightly moving the head, fingers, or feet.
Because the rhythmic movement of the body is intuitive. Even babies move with music.
Physiologically, music has important effects on our brain:
It is known to stimulate areas such as the orbitofrontal cortex, located just behind the eyes, as well as the central region of the brain called the ventral striatum. In particular, the amount of activity in those areas depends on how much we appreciate music. And it also activates the cerebellum, at the base of the brain, which is involved in coordination and movement.
Additionally, researchers found that when we listen to music, our brains synchronize with it: in electroencephalogram recordings, they discovered that waves of brain activity appear, and those brain waves synchronize in a lazy phase with the rhythm of the music heard.
This is how they also determined that we reflect faster when listening to constant beat music, than when listening to music in which the rhythm is difficult to determine. But that will be the subject of another of our articles.
So when we listen to music that we like, our inner ear stimulates the brain to release endorphins that provoke feelings of pleasure and happiness. Our brains are in sync with music, and our bodies are too. And all that synchrony, all that balance, balance and harmony is beautiful.
Music and dance move and touch us, to us, they are the best yoga in the world.