As everyone knows, practice really does make perfect. The only way to become really, really good at something is to practice as often as possible. But you shouldn’t ignore the value of observation when it comes to dancing. Look at this video of people studying Kike and Nahir’s bachata dancing. Is it worth their while to watch dance masters so intently? The answer is yes.

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Psychologists performed an experiment where they had people practice a dance routine every day. They also had them watch other people perform a different dance routine every day. After five days, the psychologists performed an fMRI brain scan and they found that the same networks in the people’s brains lit up for both dance routines. This means that they learned both routines in the same way, whether they were dancing the routine themselves or watching other people do it.

So you really can learn dance just by watching! But there are some conditions. First of all, you have to have the intention to carry out the movements yourself for your brain to store them in that way. The people in the video are most likely planning on trying out the dance moves themselves afterward so their brains will be storing the movements properly.

Second, you need to have some familiarity with the movements first. In the case of bachata, if you have never performed bachata movements before, your brain won’t know how to store its observations as movements because it has never experienced them. The people in the video are most likely already bachata dancers, so their brains will be able to store the moves they are watching in a way that they will be able to replicate later.

So yes, you can learn to dance just by watching. But you have to be planning on copying the moves later and you need to have some knowledge of how to perform the moves already. If you do get the opportunity to watch some dance masters at work, take it! You might just be able to pull those moves off afterward.

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