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Have you ever noticed how dance is built into every person, and even extends into the animal kingdom? Tiny babies move their feet and arms when the music comes on. Toddlers will bob their heads and sway to the rhythm. Even elephants, birds and dogs will bob in time to music. Dance is built into living things.

I recently came across a beautifully produced video that explores some of the scientific and cultural reasons why dance is such a pervasive experience, extending into all cultures, even those where it is specifically repressed by political agendas.

Written by Sam Dressler, expertly designed and directed by Rosanna Wan and Andrew Khosravani, and produced by Kellen Quinn, the video is titled “Dance Dance Evolution.” It’s worth the 4 minutes of your life to watch.

The video explores the reasons why this ostensibly frivolous act is so fundamental to being human. The team postulates that the answer is in our need for social cohesion, the glue that keeps societies from breaking apart despite interpersonal differences.

The video references the work of French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858-1917), who theorised that ‘collective effervescence’ — when people come together in some form of unifying, excitement-inducing activity — is at the root of what holds groups together. According to the video, the phenomenon is not unlike the electricity that lifts us up when we’re enthralled by our favourite sports teams, participating in religious rituals, entranced by music. Remember the way the 2010 Winter Olympics brought the entire city of Vancouver together in a powerful expression of harmony? Dance has the same effect (of course on a much smaller scale), bringing a group of people together to experience a shared moment of synchronized thinking.

Take a look. Then use the comments field at the bottom of the page to share your thoughts.

George Pytlik

Author George Pytlik

Before turning pro, George achieved impressive results as an amateur competitor, holding the Senior (30+) Latin championship in BC, Canada for 7 consecutive years with his wife Wendy. The couple twice achieved a top-3 Canadian ranking in Senior Latin as well as a 3rd place Canadian ranking in 30+ Ten Dance. Today, George and Wendy are professional teachers with a vision of growing a strong dance community in Delta near Vancouver, BC.

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