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Dancer perceptions of the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits of modern styles of partnered dancing.



To study dancers' perceptions of the physical, cognitive, affective, and social benefits of partnered dancing.


225 dancers (71% female) were recruited through a community ballroom dance center and completed an online survey designed to measure their perceptions of the physical, cognitive, affective, and social benefits of modern, partnered dance styles (swing, Lindy Hop, and ballroom dancing). Subgroups were formed for analyses. For one set of analyses, groups based on length of dance participation were formed: experienced (dancing for more than 2 years) or novice (dancing for less than a year) dancers. For another set of analyses, groups based on frequency of dance practice were formed: committed (dancing at least one or more times per week) or occasional (dancing two or fewer times per month).


The majority of participants reported perceived benefits in physical fitness, cognition, affect, and social functioning. Experienced dancers reported significantly greater self-perceived physical, social, and cognitive benefits than novice dancers. Committed dancers were more likely than occasional dancers to report improvements in physical fitness, U=6942, z=2.38, r=0.16, p<0.05. A Mann-Whitney test indicated that self-reported improvements in mood (i.e., feeling less depressed and more happy) were greater for women than for men, U=3945, z=-3.07, r=0.20, p<0.001. Length and frequency of dance participation significantly predicted perceived physical benefits [Χ(2) (1,6)=35.463, p <0.001, R(2)=0.16] and social benefits [Χ(2) (1,6)=15.776, p<0.05, R(2)=0.07], but not cognitive benefits.


Results suggest that participation in partnered dance styles is associated with perceived improvements in physical fitness, cognitive functioning, social functioning, mood, and self-confidence, and that perceived benefits may increase as individuals dance more frequently and over longer periods of time.

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