You'd think dance was the ultimate frivolity. But it's one of the key means to bring humans together.
We constantly look to the arts for ways in which people can enjoy, rehearse and be imaginative about their citizenship. But this is the first time that we’ve really looked at dance as an exciting mode of bringing people together across their differences (although of course different societies and cultures grasp this differently).
Click on the image above, and you’ll be taken to a richly enjoyable info-animation from Aeon on the science behind the social bonding qualities of dance. Here’s their summary:
Every culture dances. Moving our bodies to music is ubiquitous throughout human history and across the globe. So why is this ostensibly frivolous act so fundamental to being human? The answer, it seems, is in our need for social cohesion – that vital glue that keeps societies from breaking apart despite interpersonal differences.
The French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) theorised that ‘collective effervescence’ – moments in which people come together in some form of unifying, excitement-inducing activity – is at the root of what holds groups together.
More recently, Bronwyn Tarr, an evolutionary biologist and psychologist at the University of Oxford who is also a dancer, has researched the evolutionary and neurological underpinnings of our innate tendency to bust a move.
Drawing on the work of both Durkheim and Tarr, this video explores that unifying feeling of group ‘electricity’ that lifts us up when we’re enthralled by our favourite sports teams, participating in religious rituals, entranced by music – and, yes, dancing the night away.
We know of businesses, aiming at transforming collective attitudes in communities and organisation, who use dance in this way. Morning Gloryville has been doing morning raves since 2013 in London, and has become a global phenomenon.
You can “rave your way into your day” by enjoying their “inspirational, energising music and mesmerising visual entertainment as well as free massage, organic coffee and smoothie bars, yoga and personal motivation from trained and costumed performers”.
And of course we can back refer to A/UK’s heavy festival schedule this summer, where dancing is at the core of these transformational events.