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Why We Dance

Dance is innately human. The natural impulse to dance may have existed in early primates before they evolved into humans. We have danced, to communicate, to celebrate, to worship, to entertain, and to express our emotions, since before the birth of civilization.

A study published in the Public Library of Science's genetics journal in 2006 suggested that long ago the ability to dance was connected to the ability to survive. For our prehistoric ancestors, dance was a way to bond and communicate, particularly through hard times. This may indicate that coordinated and rhythmic early humans could have had an evolutionary advantage. A more recent study suggests babies are born to dance, with the ability to move to the beat as young as 5 months old.

Early humans danced as ritual to appease the gods from planting to harvest to drought, as part of religious rites and ceremonies, as a method of healing, and as a method of expression. One of the earliest uses of dance as performance may have been in the telling of the history and myths of a culture.

Even the word “kinesthetic,” a compound word from the Greek “kinein” - to move, and “aesthesis” - perception, sensation, or feeling, indicates that dance is a non-verbal form of communication. Like verbal language, dance as non-verbal communication can be understood, felt, seen, and heard, sending a message to the audience.

Dance is in our DNA. As Lady Gaga said we are “born this way.”

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