A video of Melat and her friends singing Abebatosh

You may not consider yourself to be a dancer. Your palms may even start to perspire just thinking about dancing. But mounting scientific evidence points to numerous advantages of getting up and dancing with others. In a recent study, we discovered that dancing in time with others increased pain tolerance. It also prompted people to feel more kinship with others. Dance movement therapies, which are already showing promise in the treatment of dementia and Parkinson’s disease, may benefit from this. Children with autism are already receiving music-based therapy, and possibly synchronized and physically demanding dance therapy will also aid in social interaction. Humans are innately musically receptive; when we hear a strong beat, we want to move. You could find yourself bobbing your head at a concert or tapping your foot or finger in time to a song on the radio. Even infants perform this action. Group dances have been performed by humans throughout history. Collective dancing—an activity that involves synchronizing with both the musical beat and fellow dancers—shows no signs of slowing down, especially with the rise of dance events like Zumba and flash mobs. Whether there is an evolutionary reason for our propensity to dance is a topic of significant discussion. It probably influences how we choose our love partners and how we communicate with other groups, especially those who are competitors (think of the highly synchronized Hakka). One of the most popular explanations for why we dance is that it provides chances to build relationships with other people.

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