Feeling or looks, what is more important in dancing? Poll results

In the last month’s dance survey I dove into another one of these topics that many social dancers often ponder... and argue about: What is more important in dancing - how it feels or how it looks? Both are central things in dancing!

One person may dance purely for the feeling; Think of a moment when you hear your favorite song and your body just begins to move - the feeling from the music can make you literally jump for joy or twist of agony. Or think of the feeling when you have the perfect dance in a zouk congress, connecting with your dancer partner, maybe event tapping into an emotion that plays out from the music or from that moment. There are many aspects in dance that links to 'feeling'.

Another person may enjoy dance purely for the esthetics of it - the elegance of the lines of a body, the a person can paint a picture of a song with their body and the movement. One reason surely why people love to see dance shows, go to the ballet, perform a choreography and practice their shines is for the way it looks; the visual appeal.

But what did the Zouk The World readers think when I asked them which is more important? Let’s have a look!

The poll results

First of all, thank you again for the very active participation in this poll!

So the question was: “What is more important to you in dancing - how it feels or how it looks?” I gave the readers the opportunity to rate the importance of both from 1 - 5; five meaning that “it’s the most important thing” and one meaning that “it doesn’t matter at all”.

How it feels

Not at all surprisingly, us social dancers lean strongly towards the importance of feeling over looks. A whopping 92% of gave feeling the full 5, essentially saying that the feeling is the most important thing in dancing! Only one respondent gave feeling “1” (his/her quote can be read later in the comments) and the remaining few gave it either 4 or 3.

How it looks

The results for what is the importance of how it looks in dancing are fairly different. About half of you place looks in the middle of the spectrum: 49%, say that looks is neither important or unimportant, giving it a rate of 3 out of 5. The second biggest group, 22% rate looks as 2. After that, 5% rate it as 1, saying that it makes no difference.

Some do place value on how the dance looks: about one in every six respondents rate it as 4. About half of that, 8%, rate it as the most important thing!


How it feels vs. how it looks

Now how did people tend to rate the two - how does the importance of feeling and the importance of looks correlate at an individual level? For instance, does a person that thinks feeling is the most important thing also think that looks doesn’t matter at all?

Looking at each reply, you can notice a clear trend. The most popular combination was a rate of 5 for feeling with a rate of 3 for looks; 49% of the respondents think that feeling is the most important thing and the way the dance looks is in the middle of the scale.

About one in five, 19%, think a bit less of the looks; they rate 5 for feeling and 2 for looks. The third place goes for a group of people who think both are important but the feeling is the top priority and this group ratse 5 for how the dance feels and 4 for how the dance looks.

For the rest, it’s an array of mixed votes among the remaining fifth of the respondents. Of those, 5% say both are the most important thing (5 and 5) and 5% say feeling is the king and the looks mean nothing (5 and 1).


Your thoughts

It’s always very interesting to read your thoughts - there was an option to write those in the poll as well. Nice that some of you took the time to share them! Do note that you’re more than welcome to also comment on this post!

Regardless of the precise scoring most seemed to share a similar thought, along these lines;
“We like to dance for the way it feels. If it looks nice, it’s a plus, but not the end-game.”
“If the feeling and the connection is right, the looks will usually follow suit.”

Be sure to read the lines below, there are many gems in there for us to think about - thanks to all of you for your great words! The comments you shared during the poll are grouped by the rates you gave!

How it feels = 5; How it looks = 1

I don't do shows, I dance for the great feeling it creates.

How it feels = 5; How it looks = 2

I dance for myself, not for the others - except for my dance partner, which is why the latter number is 2, not 1.

In ballroom dancing, it's mostly how it looks. That's why women sometimes lean back so heavily that it approaches the limit of being uncomfortable and knowing the steps by heart can be more important than finding connection with the partner. For some people, it's looking good that makes them feel good. In social dancing, if you only concentrate on how it looks, you might forget to concentrate on connecting with the partner, and as a result it probably won't feel nice for either one nor look good. However, seeing a good connection between two people enjoying themselves can look great even if the movements and figures weren't that fancy. A genuine smile can make anyone more beautiful!

How it feels = 5; How it looks = 3

If it feels bad, no amount of beauty can compensate for that.

I don't dance to impress, I dance to express. How it feels ranks highest on my list, because it concerns the internal. The external matters only because if I look horrible, it might make me feel horrible. Often times, if it feels amazing, I would be too busy enjoying myself to care about how I look. And rarely (for me at least), does it look horrible, when it feels amazing.

In partner dancing, nothing can beat that feeling of connection, although it's always a nice bonus if it's aesthetically pleasing. This often comes automatically though if there is good flow between partners.

In my experience if the dance feels good it often also looks good. The other way around can also happen, but less so for me, though that might depend on character. I imagine that for very extroverted people looking good might strongly affect their feeling good. For people like me who are more on the introverted side (though you might not guess I when you meet me) it is more the other way, they need to feel good to look good, since then they are more relaxed, which often lead to a more beautiful dance to watch.

Connection is important and for me that goes hand in hand with how it feels! When you connect, the dance flows which makes it look nice!

How it feels = 5; How it looks = 4

How it feels is the priority; we do it because we enjoy it. The connection with my partner is my first priority, and not playing to an audience. Yet Zouk is also a *dance* with a lot of potentially beautiful movement, and visually very impressive when danced well. It's an art form and self-expression, and art should not neglect beauty.

How it feels affects how it looks. Much less the other way round.

How it feels = 1; How it looks = 5

When performing only.


Missed the poll?

Now is your chance! What do you think is more important in dancing - how it feels or how it looks? Tell us also why - share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this post!


Past polls

See here all the previous polls!


Current poll of the month

See the current poll of the month on the right side of this blog post or click here to respond!