If you dance like a rusty twerking robot (and not in a good way), science might have some advice for you.
Psychologists from the UK used motion-capture technology to track the moves of 39 women while they danced to a drumbeat. They then translated this information into a handful of different dancing avatar videos, which they showed to 57 men and 143 women, all of whom were heterosexual. After viewing the 15-second videos, they were asked to rate each avatar based on their dancing ability. Their findings were recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The team found three key characteristics of movement that indicated a good dancer: Great hip swinging, asymmetric thigh movements, and slightly less asymmetrical arm movements. For visual pointers, check out the video below, which shows the movement of a positively-rated dancer.
So why is this type of wiggling and jiggling so effective?
Obviously, dance is a massively subjective artform that can vary depending on culture, social setting, or even the individual, and the sample size is admittedly small and Western. However, the researchers suggest the best boogie identified in the study could be tuning-in to some universal characteristics that a would-be partner would be interested in. Lead author Dr Nick Neave said that “we suspect that they all form honest cues to reproductive potential, health, and personality.”
For example, the swinging of the hips could appear to show the individual is “emphatically feminine”. The asymmetrical movement also might show they have high-quality motor control, a likely indication they are fit and healthy. These moves also have a strong amount of potential for the dancer to be expressive. This could allow the dancer to effectively portray their personality or express signals to those around them.
"The way that you move is very crucially linked to your health, your hormonal status, and your personality and also possibly things like intelligence and creativity,” said Neave, according to The Guardian. “You are seeing someone move and you are able to interpret an awful lot about that person from the way that they move.”
The same university has previously carried out more-or-less the same study with male subjects around six years ago. For the guys, they said good dancers had a strong variety of repertoire moves that involved twisting and turning of the torso and neck.
And just so you know, the video below shows one of the lowest-rated dances. Note the distinct lack of hip swing and sass.