Dance Baby, Dance

While there has been increasing doubts raised about the benefits to intelligence and development from exposing children to Mozart and other classical music in the womb and as infants, a new study suggests that humans may be predisposed to dancing. In the experiments conducted, infants started moving spontaneously to the beat of different musical genres. (Beat rather than melody seemed to be most important.) The babies smiles more often when they were able to synchronize their movements with the music.

I guess the kids on American Bandstand instinctively knew what mattered when they declared a song had a great beat and they could dance to it.

This study just confirmed what I already suspected. Both my nephews jiggled and wiggled to music since before they could crawl and bounced and bopped around as soon as they could get to their feet. A friend’s son went to Chinese New Year celebration in February. While he was frightened by the Lion Dancers, he was apparently entranced by the dance itself because he kept watching YouTube videos. Then he would stand out on the porch and bounce up and down and simulate the drum beat with his voice. His father bought him a little lion costume and drum. Now whenever I am over, he grabs the costume and drum and does a dance for us. Actually, judging from the state of the poor costume, he dances more frequently than when I am around.

What I would really love is if someone does a study which finds out if kids who continue spontaneous dance type movements throughout their first five years end up with better coordination and lower body strength. Actually, I imagine there might be benefits to discerning spatial relationships and cognition as well that could be studied.

My ulterior motive is to motivate parents to no only have their kids listen to music, but also provide them freedom and encouragement to get up and move. I figure an environment that gives kids permission to even informally participate in another form of creative expression is good for the arts in the long run.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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