What's entrainment? Why is it easier to 'drop in' to the dance for most folks when dancing with others? Why does it matter?
Entrainment is the experience on the dance floor where you sync up with another body in motion. Your movement speeds up or slows down to match the other, and they adjust to you at the same time. All of this is done on a level that’s deeper, faster, and more subtle than the conscious mind can keep up with. Sometimes, the entire dance floor entrains together and it seems like it’s breathing and moving together as one organism. The frequency of the music facilitates this coordination with a steady rhythm, and so does the vibration we feel from others' feet through the dance floor, as well as through the energy fields from other bodies.
Entrainment happens off the dance floor in a myriad of ways, too. Defined as “a temporal locking process in which one system's motion or signal frequency entrains the frequency of another system, this process is a universal phenomenon that can be observed in physical (e.g., pendulum clocks) and biological systems (e.g., fire flies).” (Frontiers in Psychology)
Have you ever felt like you were on the outside looking in at your life? It could be because you’re focused on being entertained. It’s a passive act, and while it may be pleasant in the moment, it doesn’t deeply impact your life or make you a better person.
Entrainment is not entertainment. Entertainment is an outward energy where you’re watching or listening to something outside yourself (like watching TV or passively listening to music). Entrainment happens when you’re engaged with the activity you’re doing. It’s when you’re in motion. It’s a true experience of co-creation, and is necessary for our souls to feel complete.
The next time you have a chance to experience a dance in real life, ask yourself whether you’re there passively being entertained, or if you’re there co-creating entrainment on the dance floor. The more we’re actively engaged, the more lasting changes will come from our dance practices, and the better we’ll feel in all areas of our lives.