Virtual dance parties are popular. What’s behind their rise?

Creative dancers share genes with strong social communicators, suggesting that we evolved to overcome isolation.

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From France to the French Caribbean, people stuck in lockdown around the world are finding ways to connect through dance.

Pandemic lockdowns might be pervasive, but not all our movements are restricted. This has led to a rise in dance, as people seek fitness, stress relief, healing—and connection. Live classes on Instagram and YouTube have proliferated, headed by the likes of dance legend Debbie Allen and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Living rooms are becoming rave scenes thanks to live-streaming dance parties by celebrity spinners Diplo and D-Nice. And mindfulness is taking center stage at dance therapy sessions on Zoom.

It’s all happening in time for International Dance Day on April 29. This annual UNESCO-supported event celebrates dance and encourages governments to recognize its social and educational significance. The day underscores UNESCO’s commitment to danceas a cultural expression; Spain’s flamenco and the Middle East’s dabke, along with many other dances, are inscribed on the organization’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

“More than ever, we need to dance with purpose to remind the world that humanity still exists,” says Gregory Vuyani Maqoma, an acclaimed dancer and educator from South Africa who wrote this year’s International Dance Day message. “Our purpose is...

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