Dance Like Nobody is Podcasting

A curated episode list by

Creation Date April 27th, 2020
Updated Date Updated January 22nd, 2021
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A waltz of podcasts and dancing
  1. Kenyan listener Docktor can’t help himself. When music is playing he must move to the beat and he wants to know why. What role does dance play in human evolution? And what does dance mean to us? To help answer the many twists and turns in Docktor’s questions, the CrowdScience team heads to one of the most vibrant and diverse dance scenes in the World, Havana in Cuba. For Cubans dancing is at the heart of their cultural identity. They tell stories, bond with others, practice religion and celebrate their African ancestry through dance ¬– which came to Cuba with the slave trade. For all humans, dancing is intimately connected to our love of music and is likely to be one of our oldest cultural practices. But why would our ancestors have wasted energy on what superficially seems to serve no survival benefits? Evolutionary anthropologist Bronwyn Tarr tells us that one clue lies in the brain. When we dance with others our brains reward us with a cocktail of feel-good hormones and this likely leads to profound social effects. Presenter Anand Jagatia gets challenged on the dance floor, discovers how deeply rooted dance is in Cuban society and why we should dance more. Presenter: Anand Jagatia Producer: Louisa Field (Image: Dancers in Cuba)
  2. Twyla Tharp is the most celebrated American choreographer working today, but that doesn’t mean she’d hoity-toity, and she talks with Kurt about choreographing to such accessible music at the Beach Boys, Billie Joel and Fran Sinatra. How Yillah Natalie decided to become a belly dancer after seeing the video for U2’s “Mysterious Ways.” A reporter has an illuminating – and awkward – talk with her parents about how they became obsessed with the sexiest of dances, the tango.  A scientist takes up ballet in his forties – and applies scientific principles to get better at it. And Christopher Wheeldon shares how he helped bring “An American in Paris” to the stage.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
  3. Why do we square dance in class? Where did Madonna learn to vogue? Did David Bowie actually inspire Michael Jackson's dance moves? And what does the Chicken Dance have to do with skiing? Will and Mango get to the bottom of the biggest dance mysteries. Learn more about your ad-choices at
  4. People have been doing the square dance since before the Declaration of Independence. But does that mean it should be THE American folk dance? That question took us on a journey from Appalachian front porches, to dance classes across our nation, to the halls of Congress, and finally a Kansas City convention center. And along the way, we uncovered a secret history of square dancing that made us see how much of our national identity we could stuff into that square, and what it means for a dance to be of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Special thanks to Jim Mayo, Claude Fowler, Paul Gifford, Jim Maczko, Jim Davis, Paul Moore, Jack Pladdys, Mary Jane Wegener, Kinsey Brooke and Connie Keener.  This episode was reported by Tracie Hunte and produced by Annie McEwen, Tracie Hunte, and Matt Kielty. Mix by Jeremy Bloom. Support Radiolab today at    Check out Phil Jamison's book,  “Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance” Watch this 1948 Lucky Strike Cigarette Square Dancing Commercial A rare image of Black Square Dancers in 1948 The Square Dance History Project Read “America’s Wholesome Square Dancing Tradition is a Tool of White Supremacy,” by Robyn Pennachia for Quartz And Pennachia’s original Twitter thread Read “The State Folk Dance Conspiracy: Fabricating a National Folk Dance,” by Julianne Mangin  
  5. An hour on continuing innovations in American dance. Choreographer Donald Byrd uses dance to illuminate what it means to be black in America. Elizabeth Streb speaks with Kurt Andersen about how she defies gravity with her “extreme action” techniques. And how the salsa pioneers Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco got the world on its feet.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
  6. Jordan Erica Webber looks at why a rapper, an actor and a teenage viral sensation have launched lawsuits against Epic Games for allegedly making money off their dance moves
  7. In her continuing bid to take the 'work' out of 'workout', Amanda gives pole-dancing a go. It's physically demanding, but definitely also fun. And a bit sexy.
  8. En pointe and en vogue, the ballerina has inspired many a fashion designer. Dance and fashion have long had a symbiotic relationship, and this week we speak to Patricia Mears about her sublimely beautiful exhibition which highlights the mutual love affair between ballet and high style. Recommended reading: Mears, Patricia et al. Ballerina: Fashion's Modern Muse. New York: Vendome Press, 2019. Clip from the Red Shoes (1948): Learn more about your ad-choices at
  9. Kwongkan means sand in WA's Nyoongar language. It's a place where we hide our heads. It's also the title of a new project combining film, theatre and Indigenous and Indian dance ceremonies.
  10. In 1974 the Martha Graham Dance Company toured south east Asia, to refute the image of Americans as military and materialistic. Dancers from this tour recall the response.
  1. Extra Credit Listening

  2. Tune in today to learn all about the legendary NYC Rockettes, who actually got their start in Missouri.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
  3. In 1518 a strange sight could be seen all over the town of Strasbourg. Crowds of people dancing unceasingly, unable to control their movements, seemingly heedless of their blistered and bloodied feet. As the contagious dance grew, so did the body count as the frenzied dancers succumbed to exhaustion. Over 500 years later, this dancing plague leaves us with many questions, first among them being, “What in the heck?”. In this episode, we try to get to the bottom of this mysterious infectious dance by investigating several different hypotheses, which lead us down some wild roads. Tune in, put on your best dancing shoes, and drop that beat. See for privacy information.

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