FREE LECTURE: Dance Dance Evolution: How humans found their groove
Humans are really good at moving in time. Our knack for rhythmic synchronisation sets us apart from much of the animal world, aside from a few notable exceptions (parrots, sea lions, dolphins and possibly some other primates). Evolution is a tough business, and specialised cognitive abilities tend not to survive for long without a purpose. So, why can we dance? The answer may be in how we socialise.
Through this talk, I will explore contemporary theories which aim to explain the evolution of music and dance in terms of the social needs of our species. Coordinated, synchronised activity makes us like each other more, and may serve to bind groups together. Studies by myself and others are now trying to identify the neural-cognitive mechanisms involved in this synchrony-bonding effect, using a variety of methods: from motion capture to hormonal measurements.
In a world that is increasingly divided, understanding ways in which humans have traditionally bound groups together has never been more important. If we developed a capacity for rhythmic synchronisation as a mechanism for building positive feelings of affiliation between individuals in large social groups, then we would do well to learn from our ancestors and remember how to boogie.
Joshua Bamford grew up in Perth, with his biologist parents and a variety of native fauna. He completed a B.Mus.(Hons), B.Sc. combined degree at UWA in 2013, while working as a singer (WA Opera), circus skills instructor, and venue assistant (UWA School of Music). In his final year at UWA, Joshua won both the Lady Callaway Medal, and Cruickshank-Routley Award. He has since been studying in the Music, Mind and Technology Master’s Programme at the University of Jyväskylä, including an exchange semester and research internship at the Cognitive Biology department of the University of Vienna. Joshua edits the Australian Music & Psychology Society Newsletter and sits on the council for the International Conference of Students of Systematic Musicology. Having received a D.Phil. offer from the University of Oxford, he is now raising funds for the next stage of his research. If he had spare time, he would be out swing dancing.
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