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Sunday, 7 September 2014


Rock paintings of dancing figures in Indian caves suggest that dance has been with us for at least 9,000 years.

Dancing was an integral part of Ancient Egyptian life. It evolved from the most simple rituals used by hunters to find their prey. Performing the dances was believed to help in later hunts. A leader, called a priest-dancer, was responsible for seeing that the dances were performed correctly so that the hunt would be successful.

Professional performers entertained at social events in Ancient Egypt, and traveling troupes gave performances in public squares of great cities such as Thebes and Alexandria.

Movements of Egyptian dances were named after the motion they imitated. For instance, there were "the leading along of an animal," "the taking of gold," and "the successful capture of the boat."

Probably many of the poses and motions were highly acrobatic, though in certain instances Egyptian dance steps look remarkably like steps in classical ballet.

Ancient Greek dance can be divided into large and small motions--movements and gestures. Movements were closely related to gymnastic exercises.

In ancient Greece, dance was seen as a gift from the gods. The main qualities of dance, such as order and rhythm, were also qualities of the gods.

In general dancing was not highly thought of by the Romans. Dancing schools in Rome were ordered to be closed in 200 BC.

In Europe formal dances began to receive recognition in the late 16th century, when a French writer called Jehan Tabourot published a study of the social dances of the day, including popular mediaeval dances such as the pavane, galliard and branie.

Polonaise, a courtly processional dance for couples arranged in line by rank has been known since 1645. It is the national dance of Poland,.

The Minuet was the most popular dance in Europe in the mid eighteenth-century. This dance required multiple partners, holding hands at a respectable distance, to move together in formation.

The waltz developed from the Bavarian country dance called the ländler. It was first introduced to English ballrooms on May 11, 1812. Most observers considered the waltz disgusting and immoral due to the physical contact involved. The Victorian Ladies' Pocket Book of Etiquette devoted ten pages into denouncing it.

Frontispiece to Thomas Wilson's Correct Method of German and French Waltzing (1816), showing 9 positions of the Waltz

The 1847 definition of choreography was “the art of representing dancing by signs, as singing is by notes."

The can-can is a high kicking and risqué dance popularized in Paris. It is normally danced with four women in 4 / 4 time. Although danced to many tunes, it is associated with Offenbach's opera Orpheus in the Underworld, which was first performed at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens in Paris on October 21, 1858. It was actually composed as the musical backdrop for a man descending into hell in one of the opera's scenes.

The immense popularity of dancers Vernon and Irene Castle in the years before World War I led to the popularity of social dancing. Ballrooms and nightclubs for dancers began to appear across the country, and the waltz, fox-trot, and a new dance from Argentina, the tango, were danced by many.

The foxtrot was invented by Harry Fox in 1914.

Dancing to jazz music and tango bands was criticized in Paris in the early 1920s. It seems that dancing was detracting the French from their postwar reconstruction, according to La Revue Mondiale

In 1923, the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, passed a law forbidding dancers to stare into each other’s eyes.

Chubby Checker sung The Twist for the first time on TV in 1960 when he performs on American Bandstand. The song would go to #1 and start a huge dance craze.

Break dancing began in the 1970s in New York as a non-lethal form of street fighting between street gangs.

The 1984 film Footloose starring Kevin Bacon is based on events that took place in Elmore City, Oklahoma, which banned dancing until 1980.

A world record for the longest conga dance line was set by 119,986 people in Miami in 1988.

Unlicensed dancing in public is illegal in Sweden including "illegally moving your feet to music"

Marathon dance contests are illegal in the state of Washington.

Dancing may be good for your brain and can keep you mentally sharp, according to a study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

20 minutes of dancing can burn 100 calories.

Here is a list of songs about dancing.

Sources Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998, Daily Express

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