The History of Dance – Part 1

Dance history is littered with events and happenings that shaped its very foundations and changed it at momentous occasions. As new styles were invented, people dropped the old form of dance and took up the new. There were some points in time that music and dance were at the forefront of society and innovation of […]

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The History of Dance – Part 1

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Dance history is littered with events and happenings that shaped its very foundations and changed it at momentous occasions. As new styles were invented, people dropped the old form of dance and took up the new. There were some points in time that music and dance were at the forefront of society and innovation of culture, this all contributed to dance becoming a most special pastime today. The...

Dance history is littered with events and happenings that shaped its very foundations and changed it at momentous occasions. As new styles were invented, people dropped the old form of dance and took up the new. There were some points in time that music and dance were at the forefront of society and innovation of culture, this all contributed to dance becoming a most special pastime today.

The Earliest Form of Dance

There is evidence that the earliest form of dancing came around nine thousand years ago, this was from cave paintings that they found in India which depicted a timeline of human activities from childbirth, religious rites, hunting, burials and human celebration with dancing and drinking.

It was hard for scientists to pinpoint the actual time and type of dancing it was, and what it was for. The earliest properly recorded instances of dancing were in the third millennia BC, when the Ancient Egyptians used dance for religious ceremonies. We can see from paintings at the time that priests were playing musical instruments, and the dancers were relaying stories in their movements, mostly of the heavens.

Dancing continued on to the Ancient Greek period, where it was used for public events such as early Olympian Games, a precursor to the event we now know as the Olympic Games. Again, these dances had religious overtones, and the dances were as a gift to the gods to bless the sporting event.

Non-Religious Dancing

Even in those ancient times not all dancing was for religious events, ordinary people danced for many reasons, the same as they do today. Dancing was used to celebrate something, for entertainment and, of course, seduction. There was one huge celebration in honor of the Greek god of wine Dionysus which was one long big party that went on for days.

European Dancing

This festival or celebration type dancing was continually being enhanced and refined until Medieval times when a classical dance, loved by the wealthy, became popular and was known as ballet. There is not much documentation to inform us of the early European dances, until the Renaissance period came. The most popular and basic dances in Europe at the time were a kind of chain shaped dancing were many people in a group danced in a circle.

Baroque Dances

Medieval dances made way for the more formal Baroque dances in the French and English courts. But the French Revolution changed all that, and in the aftermath, the French people started to dance differently, and this involved skipping and jumping as their moves.

As time went by, these folk dances were becoming more formal and also energetic. And in 1844 the first real formal ballroom dance was created which was the Polka, swiftly followed by the Waltz. This was the start of the formal dancing craze when ballroom masters would create a plethora of complicated dances that the public loved to learn. It must be mentioned at this point that the era of modern two-person dances started with the founders of modern ballroom dancing, namely Vernon and Irene Castle.