Your Brain on Dance: Why We Enjoy Dance

January 12th, 2020 by Elizabeth Radabaugh

Your Brain

Your BrainHow do you feel when you watch someone dance, or when you yourself dance? And why, when watching a dance performance in a room full of complete strangers, are we able to lose ourselves within the movements, feeling more connected to those around us and on stage than to the outside world? Many of the answers to this mystery can actually be answered by science!


Indeed, though art itself is “considered the domain of the heart,” “its transporting effects” actually begin in the brain, “where intricate systems perceive and interpret it with dazzling speed.” And now, with the help of neuroscientists, the new emerging field of neuroaesthetics seeks to find answers to the powerful relationship between art and the brain.

audience connection

Social Connection and Audience Entertainment

As humans, we crave social connection; it is one of the more powerful of our strengths as a species. It is because of this connection that we learn from others, and become “attuned to the emotions and actions” of those people surrounding us. “Our brains are designed for this.”

The cues we receive from those around us are what help our brains “make sense of our surroundings,” and “helps us make sense of human behavior,” which is one of the many reasons why, when watching a live performance, we get such a “neural rush.” “Even in the wordless art of dance,” we are still able to “discover meaning” within the story performed in front of us. And we love a good story.

Our BrainWhen we “embark on a journey constructed by someone else,”  “we can empathize with what the characters go through.” 


Our Brain and Movement

As a species, our brains are “highly stimulated by motion, body language, facial expression” and gestures. This is due largely to the fact that all of these “motor perceptions” are needed for survival. These movements not only visually pull us to the movements of others, but also make it so that, “We feel them, in some small way, in our bodies.”





Genni Abilock is a writer for StarQuest. She loves baby carrots, SpongeBob, and playing Frank Sinatra songs on the ukulele.