Somanaut's Blog

Just another weblog

Good dancers?

A recent article from the Guardian discussed a study that asked what makes men “good dancers” or “bad dancers”. The men were 18-35. They were filmed dancing for 15 seconds to a “basic rhythm”. Motion capture was used to create avatars- digital images designed to eliminate biases due to the men’s appearance.

The judges were straight women 18-35. The women were asked to evaluate the men as good or bad dancers. As far as I can tell, it was all visual, with no audio context. This is an interesting choice, since part of dance is about timing in reference to music.

In the abstract it says “three movement measures were key predictors of dance quality; these were variability and amplitude of movements of the neck and trunk, and speed of movements of the right knee. ” Tough grammar there. I think they mean to take neck and trunk together, and call amplitude and variability the two measures. I didn’t see the avatar in the Guardian show any neck isolations.

The right knee speed measure intrigues me. What made the scientists look for that? I’d love to know what the other measures were. If speed, variability and amplitude were possibilities, what anatomical references were chosen? Would those choices vary according to culture, gender, dance background, or other factors? And would the perception of which were significant also vary culturally, etc.?

All the measures were about shape and time. Space and effort are conspicuously absent. Would the results be different if the models could show more in relation to space, both interpersonal space and environmental space? This seems like a huge factor in sexual communication! And effort is also clearly a factor, surely perceived even by those who have no language for it.

The scientists hypothesized that better dancers are more sexually attractive. My friends in the dance world will likely be pleased. But the scientists also note that they don’t know really which movements are significant, and that the sample size is very small.

It is still a very good addition to movement science. Motion capture allows some very interesting possibilities. Hopefully, some of the scientists will think to talk to some of the dancers about experimental design.


September 14, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: