Do the dance do the dance: Say the dance, do the dance | Wigglepedia

Why Do Humans—and Some Animals—Love to Dance? · Frontiers for Young Minds


Have you ever lost yourself in dance? Or have you bounced your foot or wiggled with the rhythm of music? Do you find yourself smiling when you do so? You are not alone! From a simple drumbeat to popular rock-and-roll, the sound of music makes people of all ages move along in time to the beat. We see people tapping, clapping, and bouncing when listening to their favorite songs at a concert hall or on their phones. The urge to move with music has been part of all cultures across the world for as long as we have been studying humans. There are even some animal species that like to dance! Why is this? In this article, we explain what it is about music that makes us want to move—and what is happening in our brains when we do. Let us dive into the science behind dance.

Dance means the act of moving one’s body rhythmically to music. Music is simply a mixture of sound waves made by a human voice or a musical instrument. Sound waves are invisible and travel through the air and into our ears. When the sounds reach our ears, they send signals to a part of the brain called the auditory cortex. The signals then travel to other areas of the brain. Through this process, music “lights up” the brain regions that are responsible for thinking and understanding—and for reward, emotion, language, and movement. Let us find out more about how music affects our minds and bodies!

Our Bodies Get Synced to the Rhythm of Music

When you think about music, you might imagine your favorite song or band. Or you might think about the classical or jazz music you are learning to play on an instrument. A scientist would describe music as a series of sounds and silences that happen in a particular pattern over a certain time period. The pattern of musical sound is called rhythm. Most music also has regular beats, called meter, which is what makes us want to move our bodies in time with it. It is easy to move to music with a meter because we can guess what is coming next. Our internal body rhythms start to match up with the rhythm or meter of the music. This process is called rhythmic entrainment.

Video 1 demonstrates rhythmic entrainment. Have you ever seen an old-fashioned grandfather clock? Hanging beneath the clock face is a long bar with a weight on the end, called a pendulum. As the pendulum swings from side to side, its movements turn a series of cogs, which then turn the hands of the clock. Pendulum clocks were invented in 1666 by a Dutch physicist, Christian Huygens. Huygens placed two pendulums on the same wall and started swinging them at different times. Soon, the two pendulums started swinging back and forth in time with each other! They had become synchronized. This is a great example of entrainment. How does this happen?

An object moving with a set rhythm, like the pendulum of a clock, is called an oscillator. The word “oscillate” comes from the Latin word “oscillat” which means “to swing.” When the pendulums start to oscillate, they transmit small amounts of energy to each other through the base they are standing on. When one pendulum swings, it creates energy that is transferred through the base to the second pendulum. When the second pendulum swings back, it also makes energy and passes it back to the first pendulum. It is a bit like two people having a conversation. As this small energy exchange repeats, it gradually changes how quickly each pendulum oscillates. The faster oscillator slows down, and the slower oscillator speeds up, until they move at the same speed. Once the oscillators are synchronized, they stop transmitting energy between them. Being synchronized uses the least amount of energy.

Many things in nature have their own rhythms. From the tiniest atoms to our own heartbeats or breathing, the world is full of things that oscillate. Rhythmic entrainment—synchronization—is happening all around us every day, including when we listen to music. The oscillator of the body becomes entrained to the rhythm of music. Our feet begin to tap or stamp, we bounce up and down, or we walk along in time to the music, the same way the pendulums started moving together in Huygens’ experiment. Even our heartbeat and breathing can start to keep time with the music [1]!

Our Minds Emotionally Bond to Music

We now know why we move along in time to music. But why do we enjoy dancing so much? For centuries, psychologists (who study our thoughts and behaviors) have been interested in how music affects our emotions. Most forms of music express emotions through tempo, melody, and rhythm. Think about a cheerful song. Is it fast or slow? Is it upbeat or down? Now think about a sad song. Is it different from the happy song? A happy birthday song might make us feel good because the melody and rhythm are happy and bright and because we often hear or sing that song when having fun with family or friends. We associate the birthday song with good times, so when we hear it, we remember those times and feel happy as a result!

The way we move our bodies is deeply connected to our emotions and feelings. When we are happy, we might jump around or wave our arms in the air. When we are sad, we might hunch over or fold our arms around our bodies. But the opposite is also true. Hunching over and wrapping our arms around our bodies can make us feel sad. Jumping around and waving our arms can make us feel happy! Expressing our emotions through movement is called the embodiment of emotions.

Music is a great example of the embodiment of emotions. This is because music performers express emotions through movements, which causes listeners to have similar emotions. So, listening to jolly music can make us feel happy and move our bodies in a jolly way by jumping, clapping, or singing along, which makes us feel even happier! Think about how a ballet dancer might move to a slow, sad tune. Or how a rock star might bounce to a happy, energetic song. In this way, we can use music and movement to show others how we feel. In essence, we move to music to express, experience, and enrich our feelings through melody or rhythm. Scientists have confirmed that music helps us feel and express our emotions. So, when we dance to upbeat music, we can not help feeling happy!

Music Lights Up the Brain

The brain region that causes movement is called the primary motor cortex. When we hear music, this part of the brain is activated and encourages us to move. Another brain region is also at work when we listen to music—the limbic system, which is the part of the brain associated with reward and emotions. The limbic system triggers the release of body chemicals called hormones, which make us feel good. So, listening and moving to music can cause our bodies to release feel-good hormones. When moving our bodies in time to music, our feelings and emotions also bond with the music.

Psychologists think that brain cells called mirror neurons also play a role in our enjoyment of music. Mirror neurons are brain cells that are activated when we see other people doing something [2]. For example, if your friend yawns, your eyes see them opening their mouth wide and your ears hear a yawning sound. This triggers mirror neurons in your brain that make you want to yawn, too! Try fake-yawning in front of a family member and see what happens!

Mirror neurons also help you experience what is expressed by music performers. For example, when watching a band, your mirror neurons might encourage you to play air guitar while your favorite rock star is playing real guitar. Making similar movements to people performing music helps us relate to the emotions the musicians are expressing [1]. When several people move and feel the rhythm and emotions of music at the same time, their brains mirror each other’s behaviors and they become socially bonded. See Figure 1 for an overview.

  • Figure 1 — A person playing air guitar.
  • The auditory cortex interprets the rock music and delivers the signals to the limbic system and the motor cortex, to create emotional and motor reactions. Mirror neurons play a crucial role in this process, helping to mimic the motion of guitar playing and reflect the feelings of the musician (Image credit: Jiyeong Hong).

We Are All Born to Enjoy Dancing

We now know why people enjoy listening and moving to music. Our dance moves might improve as we get older, but we are all born with the ability to dance. Scientists studied infants 5 months to 2 years old [3]. They played a variety of music, including classical pieces by Mozart and Saint-Saëns, children’s songs, and drumbeats, as well as non-musical sounds like recordings of people talking. They found that babies moved more rhythmically when hearing music than when hearing non-musical sounds, and they smiled more when moving with music! These findings show that people are literally born to enjoy dancing, although everyone has their own unique desire and ability to dance. See Figure 2 for an overview.

  • Figure 2 — Dance often demonstrates our emotional and motor (movement) reactions to music.
  • It is universal across most human societies and cultures. Entrainment and embodiment play a crucial role in dancing. Dancing has also been observed in some animals, although animals may not have sophisticated feelings like humans (Image credit: Jiyeong Hong).

Some Animals Can Dance, Too!

Studies have shown that it is not just humans who dance. Some animals can entrain to music too. The most famous example is a parrot called Snowball (Video 2), whose movements consistently matched the rhythm of music in an experiment [4]. Some other examples of dancing animals include a sea lion (Video 3) that bobbed its head to a metronome and other rhythms, a bonobo that spontaneously drummed in synchrony with a scientist, and a horse that seemed to be trotting in time with music [5].

Scientists have suggested that animals may learn to move to the beat of music for food rewards or social bonding. The sea lion was trained for months with rewards of fish, and the parrot was rewarded with praise, which made it feel close to its human trainers. For us humans, engaging in music and dance helps us bond with others, contributing to the formation of unique cultures over thousands of years [5].


There is still a lot to discover about how humans and animals engage with music. Based on our current knowledge, we now understand that almost all humans and some animals can move to music. They choose to do so because it makes them feel good. Hopefully, in the future, you might join us to explore the science behind dance and music.


Auditory Cortex: A brain region that processes auditory information in humans and some animals.

Rhythm: A broad term in music referring to the certain pattern of sound (note) and silence (rest).

Meter (Metre): In music, it refers to the regularly recurring patterns of stressed and unstressed beats.

Rhythmic Entrainment: A temporal coupling of two independent oscillators, by which one oscillator’s frequency entrains the frequency of the other.

Video 1: Rhythmic entrainment of five metronomes on a common base.

Oscillator: An object moving back and forth with a set regular rhythm.

Embodiment of Emotions: The physical representation or expression of one’s emotional states.

Primary Motor Cortex: A brain region that provides the most important signals to produce skilled movements.

Limbic System: The collection of brain structures that are involved in emotion processing and behaviors.

Mirror Neurons: A set of neurons in the brain that modulate a specific action in humans and some animals or when they observe the same or similar action in others.

Video 2: Snowball’s tribute to Michael Jackson.

Video 3: A scientific recording of a sea lion’s beat keeping.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


[1] Zatorre, R. J., Chen, J. L., and Penhune, V. B. 2007. When the brain plays music: auditory–motor interactions in music perception and production. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 8:547–58. doi: 10.1038/nrn2152

[2] Rizzolatti, G., and Craighero, L. 2004. The mirror-neuron system. Ann. Rev. Neurosci. 27:169–92. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.27.070203.144230

[3] Zentner, M., and Eerola, T. 2010. Rhythmic engagement with music in infancy. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 107:5768–73. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1000121107

[4] Patel, A. D., Iversen, J. R., Bregman, M. R., and Schulz, I. 2009. Experimental evidence for synchronization to a musical beat in a nonhuman animal. Curr. Biol. 19:827–30. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.03.038

[5] Wilson, M., and Cook, P. F. 2016. Rhythmic entrainment: why humans want to, fireflies can’t help it, pet birds try, and sea lions have to be bribed. Psychon. Bull. Rev. 23:1647–59. doi: 10.3758/s13423-016-1013-x

200 Greatest Dance Songs – Rolling Stone

What do we mean by “dance songs”? Good question. In a sense, any song that ever got any one person moving in any perceptible direction is a dance song. The Beatles made great dance songs — as did Slayer. Nearly all the hip-hop and reggae ever made is great dance music. But to make our list of The 200 Greatest Dance Songs of All Time, a song had to be part of “dance music culture.” It’s a more specific world, but an enormous one too, going back nearly fifty years and eternally evolving right up to today and into the future.

After paying homage to the godfather of the extended groove, Mr. James Brown, our story of dance music begins in the mid-1970s with disco, and moves into early Eighties club sounds like electro and Latin freestyle. It gets born again when disco is re-engineered as house music in Chicago and techno in Detroit, and mutates with almost comic velocity into the Nineties rave explosion that produced everything from jungle to trance to gabba to garage, and eventually the EDM and dubstep bonanzas of the 2000s. These sounds all had peak moments of exposure, but they never fade away: drum ”n’ bass is having a new moment right now, and there are house songs here from the past few years.

The list doesn’t attempt to incorporate every ripple in this oceanic confluence of sub-genres. We were looking for tracks that seemed to transcend and feel more universally canonical, and we were especially mindful of the moments where dance music has intersected with the wider musical world– with synth-pop, hip-hop, funk, Miami bass, R&B, indie-rock, Latin music and pop. That’s why you’ll see Prince, Robyn, Britney Spears, Shakira, and Justin Bieber in here bumping up against Adonis, Frankie Knuckles, Moodymann, Goldie, and SOPHIE.

If you’re wondering how we got to a summer where Drake and Beyonce are suddenly releasing house records, this is that story — or, at least, our version of it.

Video Editor, Brian Lynch for Rolling Stone

Visual Credits (in order of appearance): Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out of My Head, Crystal Waters – Gypsy Woman, Beyonce – Blow, Corona – The Rhythm of the Night, Madonna – Sorry, Britney – Till the World Ends, Madonna – Vogue, Daft Punk – Get Lucky, Robyn – Dancing on my Own, Joey Beltram – Energy Flash, Azealia Banks – 212, Rihanna & Calvin Harris – We Found Love, DJ Snake & Lil Jon – Turn Down for What, Sylvester – You Make Me Feel, Piri – Soft Spot, Chic – Le Freak, Dee-Lite – Groove is in the Heart, Donna Summer – I Feel Love, Prince – When Doves Cry, Erik B & Rakim – Paid in Full, First Choice – Let No Man Asunder, Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ’Til you get Enough, A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray, Grace Jones – Bumper, Marshall – Move Your Body, Internet sensation kid 1997 in Berlin, Whitney Houston – It’s Not Right. Licensed Tracks/SFX (in order): Biodynamic modulated stutter riser, Dance like crazy – Ikoliks, Our Vibe – Superlative, Dance Out There – Alejandro Molinari, Pineapple Disco – Audiopanther, Bring It – Naems, Blurry Stars – Nbdy Nprtnt, Dark Future – Skygaze, Taika Promo (Rolling Stone VO). Song Samples (in order): Erik B & Rakim – Paid in Full, Dee-Lite – Groove is in the Heart, Madonna – Vogue, Azealia Banks – 212, Sylvester – You Make Me Feel, Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ’Til you get Enough, Marshall Jefferson – Move Your Body, DJ Snake ft. Lil Jon – Turn Down for What, Dee-Lite – Groove is in the Heart, Whitney Houston – It’s Not Right

Alisa — Dance — text, clip, facts, meaning, listen

«Dance» — a song by the group «Alisa» from the studio album of the same name. The author of the text and music is Konstantin Kinchev. Date and place of writing: Moscow, Shchelchek, autumn 1986. Prior to publication in the album, the work was repeatedly performed at acoustic concerts.

Interesting facts

Alisa’s song «Dance» for a long time existed only in an acoustic version and was distributed in bootlegs — amateur and semi-professional concert recordings. The electric version of the composition was presented only in 2001. It is known that the musicians planned to include the work in the album “For those who fell from the moon”, which Konstantin Kinchev spoke about in an interview with Nina Baranovskaya for the book “On the Road to Paradise”, but the author did not like the arrangement made then. In particular, Konstantin told her that this «song is still a guitar one.»

The electric version of the song «Dance» was first heard at the end of the documentary «Children of Great August». This picture tells about August 1991, when a putsch took place in the USSR, which was living out its last months. Konstantin Kinchev was one of the protagonists of the events of those days, he also participated in the film.

Kinchev also deciphered the meaning of the title of the song. In his interpretation, dancing means living.

Acoustic version

Alice — Dance — text

How easy it is to become ashes,
Dancing in the center of the fire.
But, God, how joyful it is to see the pupils of
Giving a volley.
The sunset is blazing over my head,
The ground is smoldering under my feet.
I grew up in the ashes.
Am I to blame?
Half spider, half swan,
I stepped into the night,
To make a fire
In honor of Bald Mountain.
Earth shredded the sky
With bayonets of grave hills.
The earth hissed: «You will burn!»
But the sky sang: «Burn!»
I stepped into the night,
And the stars lay down on the pavement.
Rainbow puddles of gasoline
I splashed the clouds.
I wanted the city to feel the sky
With every nerve, every window.
Was I not to know how much love was missing
These big cities.
I stepped into the night,
But the city was still sleeping,
And only the stars fell down,
No longer able to twinkle.
Here the walls gave only walls,
And the asphalt — only asphalt,
And only the roofs gave me the sky,
The roofs taught me to dance.

Dance when the snow falls,
Dance when the birds fall.
In the dance of the crescent moon noon.
Open the door for me!
Dance when the sun is in the face,
Dance when the faces are in mourning,

Dance when the snow falls,
Dance when the birds fall.
Dance when the sun is in the face,
Dance when mourning is on the faces.
Dancing on drunken tables,
Dancing on the graves of friends,
Dancing and not remembering, not remembering her,
Dance and pray,
Dance all warm and warm,
warm and warm,
warm and warm…

  • When the day ends
  • Swing
  • Chance
  • Soul
  • interpretation of dreams about dance according to the dream books of Miller, Vanga, Freud, Loff

    Despite the joy and delight experienced by people dancing in a dream, this is often considered a bad omen that portends difficulties. But is this interpretation always correct? In every popular dream book, this action has its own symbolism and meaning. Let’s figure out why we dream of dancing and how to correctly interpret such a dream.

    Dancing in a dream according to Miller’s dream book

    According to the interpretation of Miller’s dream book, seeing yourself dancing in a dream is a good sign. Your old ideas and dreams will begin to come true.

    Also, the interpretation of the dream depends on how the dance was. Fast — you should be careful about the upcoming business, they can be difficult and unsafe. Slow — speaks of your inner desire to relax.

    If a girl dreams of dancing children, it means that her family will live in harmony. For men, such a dream is a prerequisite for an interesting pastime.

    Old people who were dancing in a dream are considered a sign of the coming succession of successes. But strangers are a bad signal. He says that you are afraid of communicating with others.

    Seeing yourself dancing under a tree is a warning. Changes are waiting for you, but it is worth taking certain measures to implement them.

    Dancing with friends in a dream will be a harbinger of a good weekend.

    Dance in a dream according to the dream book


    Freud’s dream book also speaks of the good meaning of dancing in a dream. All past problems will pass by themselves, and you will breathe a breath of fresh air.

    If the craving for dancing in a dream was never realized, that is, you wanted to dance, but did not dare, then you should think about it. You have a huge potential that you do not want to reveal, referring to the fact that it is not serious and not important.

    Watching the most beautiful dance from the side is a cry from the soul. In real life, you have a dream that you are afraid to fulfill. Consciousness prompts that it is still worth deciding on this step, contrary to moral prohibitions.

    A dream about a naked dance speaks of a desire for freedom.

    An interesting sign is a dream in which among the dancers you see a familiar person. Probably, fate will connect you with him in the future.

    A dream where you are dancing in a crowded place speaks of your fear of the public.

    Dancing in a dream according to the dream book


    The interpretation of dancing according to Hasse’s dream book is as follows: the dreamer expects joy and wealth. And if you danced on stage, then a wave of popularity is coming.

    According to Hasse’s dream book, to see a dance in a dream — joy and wealth await you. Photo: andrea-piacquadio,

    A dream about dancing with a representative of the opposite sex suggests that you have a lot of envious people. But if the partner is your loved one, then the dream is interpreted much more pleasantly. Order and complete mutual understanding await your family, and those around you will be sincerely happy about this.

    If during the dream the locations in which you danced changed each other, this is a sure sign that you should change the situation or even reconsider your habits.

    Dreams of dancing under the sunlight speak of the desire for enlightenment.

    A dream is a harbinger of participation in large mass events, where a lot of strangers are dancing besides you.

    Dancing in a dream according to the dream book


    According to the interpretation of Tsvetkov’s dream book, dancing alone is a symbol of success and profit. But dancing with a partner is a harbinger of illness.

    People dancing in the twilight in a dream talk about the appearance of a deceiver in your environment in reality.

    Dancing under the moon is a sign of aggression that you are skillfully trying to hide.

    To see yourself in a dream dancing with professionals — to useful acquaintances.

    Dancing by the fire is a positive sign for you. He says that in the near future secret desires will begin to come true.

    Parting with a loved one portends a dream where you are dancing in full view of everyone. But this separation will be temporary. Probably, your relative will go abroad or to another city on vacation.

    Dancing in a dream according to the dream book


    The interpretation of Vanga’s dream book, relative to others, is not so positive. According to him, to see yourself dancing in a dream speaks of attracting too much attention to your person. And if you are dancing in a crowd, you are likely to be robbed.

    A short but memorable dance is a harbinger of rash acts for which the dreamer will have to apologize.

    Long dances — you should reconsider your attitude towards other people. Probably, recently you have become too callous, and do not notice how you use others for your own benefit.

    Dancing in a dream according to the dream book


    The dream in which you see yourself dancing indicates that the professional field of activity is of particular importance to you. If the movements in the dance look unnatural, your subconscious mind wants to convey the idea of ​​non-recognition by society. A dream about dancing with a partner also indicates an uncomfortable feeling of being among people.

    If others are dancing for you in a dream, then you should take a closer look at the dance, as it reflects your attitude towards these people.

    A sign of self-doubt in reality is a dream in which music and dance are not compatible, or you are completely dancing without musical accompaniment.

    Dancing in a dream according to the Modern dream book

    The modern dream book notes dancing in a dream as a symbol of the successful completion of business.

    Interpretation depends on the style of dance:

    • waltz — to fleeting experiences;
    • slow dance — to a period of difficult relationships with a loved one;
    • fast dance — to approaching problems;
    • tango — to beautiful courtship.

    Also, the interpretation depends on the gender of the dreamer. Dancing in a dream for a girl is a quick joy. For a guy — to the coming ruin.

    Expert’s commentary

    In addition to all the above interpretations, expert psychologists discuss this issue. For us, the answer to the question «why dream of dancing?» gives Veronika Tyurina, psychologist-consultant in the field of interpersonal relations :

    When you dream that you are dancing, it speaks of your temperament, your taste for life and your general desire to enjoy socializing with other people. You try to arrange any cooperation in such a way that you are psychologically comfortable.

    If you dream that others are dancing, and you stand on the sidelines and watch, this indicates your excessive restraint in communication with people. You do not show yourself enough, you are silent where you could say your word, and deep down you want to fix it.

    When you have a dream in which you are dancing, this speaks of your temperament, your taste for life.

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