Science says women should let their hips swing and make sure their legs and arms feel the beat if they want to be judged as a good dancer.
A study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports hints at the key to sexy dance moves right at the front of its decidedly unsexy title: "Optimal asymmetry and other motion parameters that characterise high-quality female dance."
Specifically, the authors found that asymmetric movements of the thighs and arms as well as hip swing are the most highly rated dance moves for women.
Don't worry, the study wasn't conducted by a group of creepy dudes in labcoats ogling dancing female volunteers. Instead, researchers from Northumbria University in the UK used 3D motion capture to record 39 women dancing to a basic drum beat and render their movements into computer-generated avatars that remove all information about their individual physical appearance.
A total of 57 women and 143 women then watched 15-second clips of the 39 avatars dancing and rated their moves.
The study's break down of what makes for great dancing is just as unsexy as its aforementioned title:
"Higher ratings were awarded to (1) greater hip swing (i.e. to a greater standard deviation of the spine lateral flexion/extension angle); (2) more asymmetric thigh movements (i.e. to a greater standard deviation of the difference between the differentiated left hip joint angle and the differentiated right hip joint angle time series); and (3) moderate asymmetric arm movements."
Translation: Swing those hips and let your body follow! Watch a sample of a "good dancer" as determined by the data in the below video.
And here's a sample of a "bad dancer," who seems to be perhaps a little more inhibited or just not feelin' it.
The researchers speculate that what we see as quality dancing might have a function in courtship and choosing a mate. They note that hip swing and thigh movement might be "emphatically feminine traits" that enhance attractiveness. Asymmetric movements of the arms and thighs might also indicate high-quality motor control.
So why only rate women's dancing? According to the study, there are no existing "functionally-motivated studies (that) have analyzed the patterns of movements that improve positive perceptions of female dance."
"Previous research has shown that male dance quality can be predicted by variability in the amplitude of neck and trunk movements together with the speed of movement of the right knee," the new study reads.
Science has spoken. The most perfect dance consists of a woman swinging her hips and getting down in a generally coordinated fashion while avoiding the rapid-fire jabbing movements of her partner's knee.
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