Let's Talk About Animals Dancing

A few months ago, we posted about Snowball, the dancing cockatoo. While we were mostly just psyched that an animal was getting down to the Backstreet Boys' "Everybody" (seriously, watch the video—it's amazing), the scientific world was excited for a different reason.

It turns out there are a lot of dancing birds, but not many other animals who can dance (defined, in scientific terms, as being able to synchronize movement to a beat). For that reason neuroscientist Aniruddh D. Patel has hypothesized that there's a link between vocal learning and dancing. Humans talk up a storm and dance up a storm; they're able to imitate what they hear as well as what they see, with their voices and, ultimately, their bodies. Birds, who learn to sing by listening to other birds and copying the sounds, can do the same thing. Other animals can't. Or so Patel's theory goes.

But as this great NPR blog post notes, a California sea lion named Ronan seems to be able to keep a beat, too. Check out the video below—the evidence looks pretty convincing. (And we love that Ronan is also a fan of the Backstreet Boys.)

So what does this all mean? Are there other non-vocal-learner animals who, like Ronan, can rock out? Will we be seeing a bird-and-sea-lion dance revue anytime soon? Will it feature a Backstreet Boys soundtrack? The scientific jury is still out, but we're kind of hoping the answer is "yes" to all of the above.

(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search

WilldaBeast and…a car? They may be unusual duet partners, but this new ad proves they're a pretty sweet match.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance Videos
Isabella Boylston in "The Bright Stream" (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy American Ballet Theatre)

Beloved by ballet fans for her lucid technique and onstage effervescence, by her Instagram followers for the deftly curated photos and videos she shares of her glamorous life, and by fangirl Jennifer Garner for all of the above, American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston is one of the rare ballet stars who's achieved mainstream fame. A native of Sun Valley, ID, Boylston trained at the Academy of Colorado Ballet and the Harid Conservatory before joining the ABT Studio Company in 2005. She entered the main company as an apprentice in 2006, and attained principal status in 2014. In addition to her successes with ABT, where she dances nearly every major ballerina role, Boylston has served as artistic director of the annual Ballet Sun Valley Festival, which brings high-level performances and classes to her hometown. And speaking of famous Jennifers: Boylston recently appeared as Jennifer Lawrence's dance double in the film Red Sparrow. Catch her onstage with ABT as Manon, Odette/Odile, and Princess Aurora during the company's Metropolitan Opera House season this summer in NYC. —Margaret Fuhrer

Keep Reading Show less
Dancers Dish



Get Dance Spirit in your inbox