Why Engineers Make Great Dancers

One thing I’ve noticed in the dance lessons I teach, that might surprise you, is that engineers make great dancers. How would I come to that conclusion, you may ask?

I can’t tell you how many times I am working in the dance studio with a couple who is learning to dance together, and I’m trying to explain which direction they need to face for a certain move. One of them will then say something like, “oh, so you mean I need to turn 270 degrees” and the other will look at me and say, somewhat apologetically, “He’s an engineer.”

My typical response is – I love engineers! Engineers are great dancers!

Here’s how I know: I’m surrounded by engineers on a regular basis. My grandfather was an engineer, my father is an engineer, my brother-in-law is an engineer, and my partner is, you guessed it…..an engineer! (secret: at least 2 of those 4 are dancers).

So, I believe have some insight on how engineer brains work*. Here’s why I think they make such good dancers, based on experience witnessing them learn (and quickly, from my perspective of teaching beginners):

  1. Engineers have methodical minds: Teaching and learning dance involves methods of stacking more difficult skills on top of basic skills, like walking. Even though we are working in an art form, the pathway for learning steps and moves can be logical.
  2. Engineers are good with patterns: At the foundation of many social dance forms (swing, salsa, ballroom) are patterns. We start with a basic, repeatable, rhythmic foot pattern. Most beginning moves are executed in this repeatable pattern.
  3. Engineers have lots of brain power: As much as I will forever advocate that learning dance requires (and builds) kinesthetic intelligence, using one’s thinking brain is a big part of it, especially at the beginning. When dancers can conceptualize how a move works, it is often easier to perform.

The moral of this story? If you’re an engineer and never thought you could dance…reconsider 🙂

And, if there’s something out there you think “is not your style” or you “could never do”, but somewhere deep inside you’re curious….give it a shot! Please tell me about it!

I’d love to hear your stories of dancing engineers, or engineering dancers, or anywhere in between.

*DISCLAIMER: My unscientific assessment of engineers is based on experience, perception, and fun. I do not claim to understand all engineers, all dancers, or all of anything!  🙂

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