Ladies: Dancing Skills Hint at a Healthier Mate

VIDEO: Scientists study mens dance moves and how women react to them.
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If men want to drive women wild on the dance floor, they can forget about those jazz hands or doing the robot.

According to a new study, sexy dancing is all about moving the torso and shaking some booty.

"We found that [women paid more attention to] the core body region: the torso, the neck, the head -- so someone who is twisting, bending, moving, nodding," lead author Nick Neave, an evolutionary psychologist at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom, told BBCNews.com.

Famous Moments in Male Dancing

British and German researchers filmed 19 men aged 18 to 35 with multiple cameras and then turned that dancing into a gender-neutral computer animation avatar.

The dancing avatars, which showed no sign of the original age, height or attractiveness of the male volunteers, were evaluated as "good" or "bad" dancers by 37 heterosexual women.

Researchers found that women's perception of dance quality were influenced by large and varied movements of the neck and trunk and, oddly enough, speed of right knee movements. Preliminary results from blood work on the male dancers also suggested that those rated the better dancers were in better health than their less-coordinated peers.

But men shouldn't worry about perfecting their rhythmic head nods and knee bounces just yet, dance experts and evolutionary psychologists say. There's a lot more to attractive dancing than a few key body movements.

Age, dance confidence and level of self-esteem, as well as compatibility with dance styles all are more likely to influence how attractive any given woman might find you on the dance floor, said Peter Lovatt, a cognitive psychologist and ex-professional dancer at University of Hertfordshire in the U.K.

Given the limited sample size used in Neave's study, he warned against drawing to definitive conclusions about what makes a man a hotshot on the dance floor.

"There are no magic moves that are sexy to everyone," he said. "One woman might find you repulsive and another might find you attractive even if you're doing the same dance."

The Dance Laboratory -- Sex and Dancing

Past research showed that cultural background, body symmetry, and even fetal exposure to testosterone seemed to affect how well a guy's dancing was received by the ladies.

A 2007 German study showed that men whose dance movements were rated highest for dominance, masculinity and attractiveness were those who had had higher prenatal exposure to testosterone (estimated by finger length ratios).

A 2005 study out of Rutgers University found that bodily symmetry (a sign of genetic health and often beauty) also was a predictor of highly rated dancing among women.

The studies suggest that good dancing acts as an evolutionary cue for women, highlighting men who may be the attractive, dominant males of the group.

Similarly, researchers felt that the large torso and head movements perceived as attractive in Neave's study were a sign of a man's health, vigor and strength -- in short, his reproductive quality.

This "mating dance" explanation may oversimplify the matter, however, according to evolutionary psychologists.

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