In this study, published Thursday, the authors showed the digitized dance avatars to a group of heterosexual men and women. The basic mannequin-like animations allowed the researchers to control for any secondary variables that might denote hotness like clothing or hairstyle. In addition to hip swing and thigh independence, the resulting data suggests that we're attracted to women dancers who move their arms a bit along with the hip shaking and leg shimmy. A previous study showed that we prefer male dancers who vary their movements of the neck and torso, move their right knee a lot and don't swing their hips too much.
Researchers attribute the high rating of hip swing and asymmetric thigh movements to perceived fertility and high-quality motor control (it's tough to move two limbs in different directions at the same time). The team also notes that sexy dancers can use variable combinations to heat up the dance floor, so you're not stuck with one simple set of moves.
The findings themselves may not be the same across all societies, however. "Dance is strongly influenced by culture," co-author Nick Neave told Popular Science, "so there may be some cultural differences in specific movements or gestures."
At least you now know how to look hot on the dance floor. Honestly, though, go ahead and let the rhythm move you. Sometimes a dance move is just a dance move.