How is dance used today in our own culture

The Role Of Dance In The Culture Of Human Society | The Guardian Nigeria News


By Chinelo Eze

12 December 2021   |   12:23 pm

Taking a waltz down the emergence of the forging of culture and tradition of countless dance styles in human society, it is evident the art form of dance takes its place in society. Through dance, a society is known, and many become acquainted with the people through it, ultimately making it a culture. Based on…

Taking a waltz down the emergence of the forging of culture and tradition of countless dance styles in human society, it is evident the art form of dance takes its place in society.

Through dance, a society is known, and many become acquainted with the people through it, ultimately making it a culture. Based on antiquity, dance was first traced to a nine thousand-year-old cave painting in India. Perhaps, this expounds the genesis of dance as part of the centrepiece in their film scenes so that it makes an Indian film without dancing scenes appear odd and makes one question its cultural credibility. Again, ritual dances are an essential element in the foundation of human civilization. As with its multiple purposes to man, it was used in the oral performance of ancient cultures as mimes to pass on myths and traditions from one generation to another. 

Consequently, there exists a tie between dance and religion that goes way back and still unites in contemporary times. Greek and Romans infused dance to their religion and everyday common life. In Africa, such rhythmic sway of the body aligns with religion as a ritualistic performance that is preserved and fused to life’s activities on varying levels.

Some cultural dances are a theatrical display of colours and flash moves, while others are austere, like the traditional dance of the Geisha in Japan, which is revered as a symbol of femininity and nobility. All of its gentle hand movements reflect the people of Japan, and its aesthetic cultural norms of harmony are rooted in their way of life.

The rhythmic flow of the body can mean many things to different people dictated by the pace of the movement. There are dances of war to pump the ego of the valiant men and places like Kogi had naked women dancing as a tactical approach to subdue their opponent. There are ritualistic structured dances to appease the gods for farmers to have a fruitful season and other types of dance to initiate a process. 

Dance is filled with aesthetic values, making it distinct from one society to another and is shrouded in symbolism that expounds on the cultural heritage of a community accordingly being unique from one society to another. Hence, ritual dances affirm the belief of the system of society. In China, the “lion dance” is one of cultural identity. It also serves as a religious and ceremonial dance that signifies and wields good fortune and scares off evil wandering spirits. Therefore, dance is a tool of cultural expression to convey a lot about society and to the observers. The versatility of dance makes it almost impossible to be pinned down. In its metamorphosed nature that thus acts as a cultural identity, “cha cha” is to Cuba what “atilogu” and “achikolo” are to the people of Enugu State in Nigeria. “Bata” is a cultural heritage of the Yoruba in Nigeria and another graceful dance, “swange,” is for the Tiv people of Benue state in Nigeria. The likes of salsa, tango among others are symbolic cultural dances to different geographical settings.

Though dance is a freeform and might not be a stickler for rules, it still builds on existing traditions before it and constantly transforms into shades of beautiful art form in time and space. For instance, hip-hop dancers, from time to time, appropriate some traditional moves into their dance exhibitions. 

On the other hand, health-wise, dance acts as a recreational activity, blowing off steam of mundane activities, enhancing its recreational values. Despite the mainstream nature of dances, not all dances styles follow that pattern, for they bring to bear the cultural sensibilities, religious and belief systems of society. 

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Cultural, political, economic, and tourism uses of Dance Heritage (2.8)

Last Updated on March 4, 2022

Table of Contents

The Concept of ‘Uses of Heritage’

As discussed in 2.4 (on the transmission of dance), heritage uses elements from the past for the benefit of people in the present. This is connected to Smith’s (2006) idea of ‘uses of heritage’.

As Smith argues (2012, p. 69), ‘it is not the things or places that are themselves ‘heritage’, it is the uses that these things are put to that make them ‘heritage’’.

Heritage can be used in many ways, both at the levels of the individuals or groups and societies, providing individual or shared senses of identity.

However, as Howard (2003, pp. 5–6) observes, heritage use can cause division, because:

So long as heritage can be used for profit, or to produce group pride or identity, or to subjugate or exclude someone else, then someone is going to use it’.

(Howard, 2003)

In my research, I will try to assess how practitioners use Raqs sharqi, to find out why it is important for them and, therefore, worthy of being safeguarded.

Dance and Uses of Heritage

In the dance literature, I have found mostly examples of dance used by governments, for political and economic aims.

According to Giurchescu (2001), dance establishes contacts between humans or between humans and supernatural beings.

Hence, it can be used to help maintain or change social structures. Giurchescu (2001) states that dance can be used as a propaganda tool or to strengthen relationships and sense of belonging.

Use of space and gender roles can reflect social or hierarchical structures. Because of its power of communication and its multiplicity of dimensions, dance is often used to ‘”package” political-ideological, educational, religious or economic messages’ (Giurchescu, 2001, p. 111).

Reed (1998, p. 511), likewise, reports that, since the 19th century, dance has been a powerful tool of propaganda in shaping the identity of nations.

Dances Used as Cultural Heritage, Political and for Politics

There are several examples, in the literature, of dance forms used under the banner of cultural heritage to portray a certain image of a country and its traditions, both abroad and in the eyes of its own citizens.

Rumba, Cuba

For example, Daniel (1991) reports that rumba is used by the Cuban government to represent the country and its post-revolution values of ‘inclusion and cohesion’ (Daniel 1991, p. 3).

Voudou, Haiti

Voudou dance in Haiti, as Ramsey (2003) illustrates, is another example of popular dance staged for political purposes, to represent Haiti on the international scene.

Voudou dance in Haiti


Wilcox (2011) reports that Chinese traditional dances are used by the Chinese government to create community cohesion abroad (for Chinese diasporas globally) as well as for internal propaganda (as a way for the ethnic majority to patronize minorities). As Reed states (1998, p. 511):

As an embodiment of cultural heritage, the dancer becomes inscribed in nationalist histories and is refigured to conform to those histories, yet ambivalence about the dancers and their practices is often evident because the practices themselves often resist being fully incorporated into nationalist discourses. 

Reed (1998)

Moroccan Shikhat

Moroccan shikhat are examples of dance/heritage ambivalence in society, as described by Kapchan (1994).

The shika (plural shikhat) in Morocco is a female dancer who performs at rites of passage such as marriages or circumcision rituals.

Shikhat are hired to perform, often in groups, and they embody the spirit of celebration.

However, shikhat are also stigmatized because they are women who live alone, work to make a living, behave like men in public (by smoking and mixing socially with men) but most of all because they are paid to dance in public, thus using their bodies for public display in a commercialized manner.  

Kapchan (1994) observes, however, that the shikha’s status is changing.

The most successful ones can make a good living and improve their status in society by saving money and buying properties and their success is aided by the use of media.

When shikhat record their performances on video, Kapchan (1994) relates, and these videos become popular, this affirms their value as artists, thus raising their status in society.

Kapchan (1994) adds that media broadcast shikat from different regions of Morocco with their specific styles, so shikhat now represent ethnic and regional identities, reflecting the richness and variety of Morocco.

They have become an item of folklore whose artistry is highlighted while their social history is suppressed.

Shikhat have gone from being ‘embodiments of shame to embodiments of the one heterogeneous nation’ (Kapchan, 1994, p. 82). 

As Reed (1998) argues, the subversive elements of dance are sometimes tamed to fit in with power ideology. According to Reed (1998, p. 512), ‘political ideologies play a critical role in the selection of national dances . . . regulating purity and authenticity in folkloric dance in a patriarchal and protective mode’.

Similarly, in Egypt, the choreographer Mahmoud Reda created stage representations of Egyptian folkloric dances, which were devoid of the sensual elements that are instead part of traditional Baladi dance (local dance, the social equivalent of Raqs sharqi).

Shay (2006, p. 154) comments, about Mahmoud Reda that ‘he created a new dance tradition, one in which the inherent sexuality in traditional Egyptian dance became de-emphasized . . . for the approval of the new postcolonial elite’.

Dance for Economic Uses and Benefits

Another way in which governments use dance is for economic reasons in tourist settings.

As Hawkes (2001) highlights, culture is the fourth pillar to sustainable development, in addition to the economic, social, and environmental ones.

As discussed in 2.5, there are contrasting views in the literature on whether tourism has a positive or negative impact on authenticity.

Maoz states that (2006, p. 223) ‘tourists, in their search for a pure and authentic past, project their desires onto the less developed, and the Third World becomes the playground of their imagination and a target to conquer and consume’.

According to Edensor (2001, pp. 69–70), local performances for tourists are staged in a way that perpetuates stereotypes, but it can also revitalize moribund traditions.

Mibu no Hana-taue, Japan

Indeed, Hashimoto (2003, p. 227) points out that ‘the Mibu no Hana-taue is a contemporary cultural phenomenon which continues to be produced through tourism’. 

Hendry (2008, p. 275), without denying the impact that tourism can have on resources, emphasizes the possibility of a sustainable form of tourism, as he states that ‘culture may be shared rather than consumed.

Hendry refers to cultural craft centres for tourists run by locals in New Zealand, in which locals take ownership of sharing their local traditions with tourists.

Raqs Sharqi and Tourism

Regarding Raqs sharqi, this research will try to assess if and how tourism plays a part in the transmission and safeguarding of this dance genre, given that international practitioners travel to Egypt to learn raqs sharqi at the source.

The political and economic uses of dance, often involve the adaptation of folkloric dances for the stage.

These can be considered invented traditions, which Hobsbawm and Ranger (1992, p. 1) define as ‘a set of practices . . . which seek to inculcate certain values and norms . . . which . . . implies continuity . . . with a suitable historic past’

Hendry refers to cultural craft centres for tourists run by locals in New Zealand, in which locals take ownership of sharing their local traditions with tourists.

Reda’s adaptation of Egyptian folkloric dances on stage is based on pre-existing traditions, which are, however, reinvented for the stage, to create a socially acceptable version.

Indeed, the adaptation of folkloric dances for the stage raises issues of authenticity, as these dances need to change once on stage, not only for ideological reasons but also for aesthetic and entertainment purposes.

As Giurchescu (2001, p. 117) posits, ‘in the context of a stage performance even the closest reproduction of a folklore model still remains an imitation’.

Most of the changes that folklore undergoes when adapted to the stage happen because of the transition from a form of participatory, or social dance, to one that is presentational, for the stage (see footnotes).

Changes That Occur in Dance as it Adapts for Presentation

Based on Çakir’s (1991) article on the protection of traditional dances and Ramsey’s (2003) study on voudou dance’s adaptation for the stage in Haiti, I conclude that the following changes happen in the dance, as it adapts from the participatory to the presentational form: 

  • Different production values are joined together: if a dance is performed for an audience with a different cultural background from the one in which the dance originated, or if the choreographer lived/worked abroad, as his/her experiences in a different context will be reflected in his/her art.  
  • Dance duration shortens, because of staged performance time constraints. 
  • Space patterns change, as the dance needs to become visible to the audience and aesthetically pleasing. In social and ritual contexts, the feelings and the experience of people dancing are more important than visual elements.
  • Virtuosity becomes more important in a staged performance, for entertainment reasons. 
  • Some elements of the dance are used for different purposes from their original intent. In voudou dance, for example, the kase, a break in the drum’s rhythm, in the original form is used to introduce a transition from non-trance into trance but, on stage, it simply marks the transition between two different moments of the performance. 
  • Fewer repetitions: participatory dances can be quite repetitive but too many repetitions can be boring to watch for audiences. 
  • In participatory dance, improvisation is preferable, for dancers to express their feelings spontaneously. Stage performances (especially groups) tend to be choreographed. 
Dance heritage is used in many ways including politically and for economic reasons.

Changes also occur in the way individuals relate to the group. According to Giurchescu (2001, p. 114) ‘in contrast to traditional folk dancing, characterized by variation and individualization, staged performances are based on homogeneity and synchronism’.

To conclude this section, it has emerged that the uses that people make of dance/heritage also contribute to its change and transmission.


1 – The attributes of participatory and presentational applied to dance, are used here in the sense described by Nahachewsky (1995).

Next Page >> Literature review summary.


Hi – I’m Dr Valeria Lo Iacono and I am a dance researcher with a PhD in dance as a form of living heritage. I also teach belly dance and love to travel to discover new dances around the world. I have worked also as an academic and in the UK and in Korea. Thank you for visiting my site.

Dance as part of the historical culture of the nation

Dance is always present in a person's life. A person usually fills the brightest positive emotions, joy and happy moments with simple dance movements. There are sayings: “I danced with happiness” or “Good news for you, dance!”. Currently, many different dance shows are being created on television, dance culture is developing, and dance styles and trends are multiplying. Dance culture remains always bright, creative, exciting for strong and creative people. Where did some dance trends come from and what role did they play at a certain stage in the development of society, we decided to find out in our work.

Research hypothesis: Dance has an ancient history and serves as a model of labor activity, interpersonal relationships and is part of the historical culture of the nation.

The purpose of the study: to prove the connection between dance and the historical development of society.

Research objectives: to learn the history of the emergence of dances of peoples of various nationalities; study the literature on the topic;

Object of study: various dance cultures of the peoples of the world. Subject of research: the history of nationalities and their characteristic dances and dance movements.

Research methods: study of literature, access to the Internet, observation, analysis.

Relevance: Computers and gadgets have recently captured our minds and literally our bodies. Every young person spends a lot of time sitting at the computer. The computerization of society has given us a large information field, but has taken away our movement. In this work, we will return to the origins of dance culture and prove that simple movements can also serve as a means of communication, physical and spiritual development.

Russian folk dance cannot be confused with any other dance. It is characterized by dynamics, a lot of jumps and even tricks and requires a good physical shape of the dancer. Having studied various sources, we have not found a certain historical period of the origin of Russian folk dance. It is only obvious that this type of culture comes from the depths of antiquity and personifies the character of the Russian person, the depth of his soul, and also personifies the difficult lot of the great people and its rich history. Basically, mass festivities with dancing in Rus' were tied to great church holidays: Christmas, Maslenitsa, Ivan Kupala and others. Consider some of the main varieties characteristic of Russian dance.

The classification of the types of Russian folk dance does not involve the performance of dances on certain holidays or seasons, but their choreographic structure and characteristic features. Let's consider some of them.

The round dance was distributed throughout Russia. Each area brought something new, creating variety in style, composition, and manner of performance. Round dances were performed at different tempos: slow, medium and fast. The basis of the round dance was the performance of a round dance song by all its participants. Dance, song and game were the obligatory components of the round dance. The round dance brought together a large number of participants.

Round dances had cult-ritual, social, as well as everyday themes. The dancers held, as a rule, by the hands, sometimes by the handkerchief, belt, wreath. In some round dances, the dancers did not hold hands at all, but moved one after another, maintaining a strict interval, sometimes they walked in pairs.

It is interesting that in different regions of Russia there were local features of the performance of round dances associated with natural and climatic conditions, with the specifics of everyday life and work, human relationships that were formed in various living conditions.

If the text of the song accompanying the round dance did not contain a specific action, plot, characters, then this is an ornamental round dance. The participants in the round dance walked in circles, in rows, braided various figures from the round dance chain, performing their step with the rhythm of the song. Sometimes ornamental round dances revealed the content of the song with their pattern and construction. The text of the songs accompanying ornamental round dances was most often associated with images of Russian nature, the collective labor of the people and their way of life. In the drawings of ornamental round dances, the element of representation was very strong - “curling a cabbage”, “braiding a wattle fence”, etc. The entire round dance consisted of only a few figures and rearrangements. In different regions of Russia, round dances were called differently: “curly”, “lace”, “patterned”.

A game round dance is a round dance, in the song of which there were characters, and a plot, action, and the content of the song was played out by all participants in the round dance. Performers with the help of dance created various images and characters of the characters. In game round dances, the main thing was the disclosure of the plot of the everyday scene. Many themes for game round dances were contained in songs about the life of the people. The choreography of the round dance organically included a scarf, ribbon, wreath, etc. These items served as symbols. So the wreath symbolized the marriage union, the handkerchief replaced the pillow, featherbed, etc. In such round dances, several characters stood out. In game round dances, the construction pattern was much simpler than in ornamental ones. Compositionally, these round dances were built in a circle, in lines, in pairs. A story played out in the center of the circle. In the linear construction of round dances, the participants were divided into two groups lining up opposite each other, which led a kind of dialogue. In such round dances, the artistry of the participants was of great importance.

The dance was born in a round dance and left it, breaking the round dance chain, complicating the technical basis, creating its own forms and patterns, replacing the round dance with a dance song and various musical accompaniment. Dance could express various states of a person. The dance consisted of a number of separate movements - elements that differed in a characteristic manner of performance, had a Russian national flavor. Every movement in the dance was filled with meaning. A variety of movements, the number of which increased many times due to the improvisation of the performers, is a characteristic feature of Russian dance. The performer of Russian dance had very expressive hands, head, shoulders, face, hands, etc. The dance made it possible to reveal personal, individual character traits. Boys and girls, men and women, teenagers and the elderly could participate in the dance. The male dance was characterized by breadth, scope, prowess, strength, attention and respect for the partner. For women's dance - majesty, smoothness, nobility and sincerity, but often it was performed lively, with enthusiasm. Each dance had its own content, plot. One of the distinguishing features of the dance was individual improvisation. The dance differed from the round dance in a richer and more complex vocabulary of dance movements. In addition to enriching the vocabulary, the dance made it possible to complicate and diversify the spatial pattern: the dashing exits of the guys, the perky passages of the girls, the dashes, the transitions of couples of various patterns, etc. - all this created new patterns and constructions inherent only in dance.

Distinguished dance from a round dance and musical accompaniment. The dances went not only to songs, but also to the accompaniment of various musical instruments. The songs to which the dances were performed were mostly fast, and their melodies were brightly colored with accents and a pronounced active rhythm. Such songs were called dance. Dance and round dance songs did not always have sharply distinctive features. Performers and spectators of dances emphasized its rhythmic accents with the help of echoes, shouting, clapping and various musical instruments.

The dance could be accompanied by many Russian folk instruments. Instrumental accompaniment is another main feature that distinguishes dance from round dance.

Single dance was male and female. It most fully reflected the individuality, skill, ingenuity of the performer. Single dance is based on the improvisation of the performer. With their movements, dancers could convey joy and fun, a deep love feeling and humor, and also introduce movements associated with labor processes, images of birds, animals, etc.

A single dance had its own well-established traditions of performance, a certain form of construction. It began with moving in a circle - driving - or with going into a circle and performing some kind of movement on the spot - with an outburst. This is the beginning of the dance, then it developed, the dance reached its climax, and the final followed.

The pair dance was performed mainly by a guy and a girl, less often by a man and a woman, but older people did not take part in it. The content of the pair dance is, as it were, a cordial conversation, a dialogue of lovers. Most often these are wedding dances. But sometimes in pair dances the content and mood were somewhat different: jealousy or slight resentment of those who loved. Basically, the pair dances were very lyrical. They did not have a strictly established pattern, rapid growth and energy of performance.

The dance is a competition in strength, dexterity, ingenuity. This is a display of the artist's personality. Two guys or two men took part in the old Russian dance, the girls did not take part. The dance was performed to the accompaniment of musical instruments, less often to a song. The dance started slowly and ended at a fast pace. With the change in the way of life, the dance began to be performed by everyone (women, men, the elderly), but only two participate. The dance was performed to well-known common melodies, sometimes to ditties.

A lot of people could participate in a group dance, but more often its composition was limited to a small group of performers. The group dance had an established structure. She absorbed many figures of round dances, some group dances included single or double dance, improvisation was used. Group dances were performed not only by boys and girls, but also by middle-aged men and women. Most often they were performed in pairs or threes. Group dances are very diverse in terms of drawings, plot and content. They always had the exact place of birth and existence. Each locality had its own traditional themes for dances, forms of construction, manner and local flavor. For example: "Eight" - the Arkhangelsk region, "Gusachok" - the Smolensk region, "Timonya" - the Kursk region, "Sixers" - the Urals, "Karachanka" - the Saratov region. All dance figures were circular: they were performed counterclockwise [4].

Let's get acquainted with other dance cultures of the peoples of the world. The origin and functional significance of the capoeira dance and martial arts is interesting. Brazilian capoeira is a fascinating combination of dance, combat, acrobatics, fantastic plastique, accompanied by playing the berimbau and drums. Capoeira has Afro-Brazilian roots. It is still not known exactly where capoeira originated. More often in the sources there is a version that capoeira originated in South America in the 17-18 centuries during colonization. According to one version of the origin of this culture, African slaves brought to Brazil to work on plantations fled from overwork to the Amazon jungle. There they created communities "Kilombush" and joined the native Indians, who were also against colonization. Unconquered rebels often had to defend their settlements, and due to a lack of weapons, they had to engage in hand-to-hand combat. The word capoeira does not have an exact translation, but it is consonant with the term "capoeiras" - jungle thickets. Another version says that this was the name of the low grass area where the slaves trained during their rest breaks. To disguise their training to resist the colonialists, the slaves played national instruments and sang songs. Therefore, smooth movements and acrobatic exercises in ligaments and to music are like a dance. From 19In 88, serfdom was abolished, but this event did not affect African slaves. Despite the prohibitions, capoeira survived among the poor as a dance and martial art. In the 20th century, when all races became equal, capoeira remained popular and was officially recognized by the National Confederation of Brazilian Sports. The fighters themselves call the duel a game, and themselves the players. The fight takes place to the accompaniment of national instruments: berimbau, abataki, kashishi and the singing of national songs with a simple melodious text. Musical accompaniment sets the rhythm, pace and mood of the fight. The movement of the fighters to the music looks fantastic and more like a perfect dance of perfect bodies. Capoeira is a democratic sport. Competitions can be full-contact or limited in techniques and strikes. Previously, musical accompaniment served as a danger signal. If the duel was threatened by a police inspection, the participants in the birth filled a special rhythm, denoting an alarm signal, and the police could be deceived. Capoeira includes two styles. Regional - high-speed, power, including power and acrobatic techniques, as well as blows inflicted in the air. Angola is a calm, flowing style, the movements are smooth and flow from one to another. During the fight, styles can flow from one to another.

There is no exact date for the appearance of the beautiful flamenco dance. There is a version that flamenco is the result of joint creativity of European and Eastern peoples. Historians put forward a version that the dance originated in the Spanish city of Tartessus, where educated people lived, playing various musical instruments, and even the laws of this city were written in verse. This is where flamenco music was born. The formation of the chant was influenced by the Catholic Church. In the 8th century, visiting Arabs influenced the formation of Andalusian music. They added their rhythms to the music and the melodies were filled with brightness and feelings of passion. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Gypsies joined the Arabs and, having adopted the melodies, remade them in their own way. While in exile, the gypsies added attributes of their lives to flamenco: fire flames, temperamental guitar sounds and songs about a difficult fate with faith in a happy future where love lives. It was thanks to the gypsy people that movements and images appeared in the dance that fascinate us to this day. A proud straight back, arms raised in a bend, a moment of immobility and tearing passion of each movement, heels that clearly beat the rhythm in time with a hot heart, a sharp turn and a smooth wave - all this is the magic of flamenco.

The movements of oriental dances, or bellydance, are characterized by swaying of the hips and undulating movements of the abdomen. There are many varieties of oriental dance, which combines the cultural characteristics of various Arab countries. The first information about the oriental dance style can be found on the frescoes in the ancient temples of Egypt. The frescoes are over 3000 years old. This dance style is shrouded in various legends. One of the legends says that the concubines of the harem danced this dance to ease the birth pangs and drive away evil spirits from the newborn. Also, this dance was associated with the cult of the Goddess of Fertility and was used in rituals to appeal to the forces of nature to obtain a harvest. At that time, the land for the inhabitants of the Arab countries was the only source of food. To get a generous harvest, the priestesses in the temples performed a belly dance, which was also associated with fertility and the birth of a new life. Further, the dance was transformed into a folklore one, since each ethnic group living in this region brought something of its own to the dance. But the main thing remains the same. The main performer is a woman, and the main elements are the movements of the abdomen and hips. The sounds of folk instruments are necessarily woven into oriental motifs: drums, oud and tambourines, woven into melodic lulling singing.


Having become acquainted with the history of the emergence of various popular dance styles, one can trace a clear pattern. Dance arose in society at the time of its progressive development. With the help of dance, people tried to explain the phenomena of nature and "make friends" with her or ask for the protection of natural forces. With the help of dance, the correct relationship of a man and a woman as partners and their role in the community and family was emphasized. The dance served as a means of bringing like-minded people together and helped to survive difficult life situations with faith in a brighter future, truth, justice and love. Performing dance movements helped the fighters become more dexterous, and future mothers gave birth to healthy children, while maintaining their own health. In general, in the history of the development of human civilization there has always been a dance. He served as an outlet in difficult situations, supporting the spirit of people, and a means of strengthening the body in order to fight all the hardships of life.


In the process of studying theoretical sources, I learned a lot of interesting things about the development of dances of different peoples. In the course of the study, we confirmed the hypothesis. Dance is a part of the most ancient culture of every nation and arose in the course of the main activity and historical events of each nation and reflects the milestones of its development, as well as the moments of labor activity. If the folk dance is alive, the culture of the people is also alive. I recommend that elements of the dance culture of the peoples of the world be included in the lessons of history, music, and physical education. This will make the lessons more interesting, meaningful and add positive emotions to our lives.


  1. Bogdanov G. F. "The Tale of Russian Traditional Choreographic Folklore" Methodological guide-M .: VKhTTs, 2012
  2. Klimov A. A. "Fundamentals of Russian folk dance." -M.: Art, 1981
  3. R. Waring "The Art of Capoeira" National Geographic ELT 2008
  4. Alfonso Puing Claramunt, N. Vanhanen "The Art of Flamenco Dance" 1984.
  5. E. V. Shakhmatova "Research of European Directing and Traditions of the East". 2019.
  6. Abstract: Canonization of dance forms in the process of formation and development of Russian folk dance

Basic terms (automatically generated) : dance, round dance, movement, dance, single dance, pair dance, dance help, Russian folk dance, dance culture, dance culture of the peoples of the world.

from animal mating dances to break epistemology – News – IQ Research and Education Portal – Higher School of Economics National Research University

For a long time, art historians and theater critics wrote about dance for a wide audience. They judged the dance as a performance, that is, a spectacle, in other words, a picture. Later they were joined by philosophers and ethnographers, who were interested in dance from other sides. But the real dance&movement studies / studies of movement and dance started when people came to the academy who were familiar with the movement firsthand, that is, the dancers themselves. Irina Sirotkina talks about how dance research developed in the 20th century.

Irina Sirotkina is the author of the books “Free Movement and Plastic Dance in Russia”, “The Sixth Sense of Avant-Garde: Dance, Movement and Kinesthetics in the Life of Poets and Artists”, lecturer at the IGITI HSE faculty “Dance and Movement Culture in History and Modernity”.

Over the past 30-40 years, a generation of researchers with direct experience in dance and movement practices has grown. One can hope that through their efforts the dance will reveal itself to us from a new side - not only as an aesthetic or social phenomenon, but also from the inner, phenomenal side, addressed to the sensations of the dancer himself.

So, in the past, a dancer, and now a professor of philosophy and a follower of the phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty, Maxine Sheets-Johnston claims that movement is our first and most important experience, it is present in a person from the moment of birth and even before this moment, in the womb mother. A child is born through movement, the very act of being born is movement. Phenomenology puts at the center a person's awareness of his physicality ( embodiment ), the experience of life as movement, contact, interaction with things and people. For Maxine Sheets-Johnston, it's the feeling of moving, alive, quite simply, the "feeling" of life. The phenomenal reality of bodily incarnation is given to a person not through a word or image, but directly, "from within" - through a sense of movement, a muscular feeling, or kinesthesia. This "sixth" (after sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing) sense appears in ontogenesis earlier than others. Kinaesthesia precedes not only all other sensitivity, but also emotions and is also capable of evoking emotions - everyone is familiar with “muscular joy” from movement or pleasant fatigue-relaxation. Etymologically, the word "emotion" itself is e-motion - also includes movement.

Anthropology of movement and dance

One of the first works on dance related to anthropology was Kurt Sachs' World History of Dance. Sachs built dances in an evolutionary line, from "nuptial dances" of animals (he took the mountain hens of Latin America as an example) to Western European ballet. Dance history books often reproduce the standard legend: in the beginning, the dance was "rough", "powerful", "primal", "bestial". Sachs considered modern non-Western tribes to be a step below the Caucasoids and called their dances "more primitive" (he also argued that some peoples - for example, the "dwarfs" of the Malacca forests Kente and Beteke - "danceless"). However, just as these ethnic groups are not a stage of development preceding Europeans, so their dances cannot be considered an embryonic version of European dances. At the time Sachs wrote, many anthropologists were making similar universal claims. So, Franz Boas believed that a person has some basic need for order and rhythm, which underlies the dance. Unlike Sachs, Boas believed that individual dance traditions could only be understood in the context of an ethnic group's own culture.

More or less speculative speculation about what dance looked like at the "dawn of civilization" continued even after World War II. Fortunately, by the end of the 20th century, universal categories like “dance in general” and unsubstantiated judgments about “primitive” dance began to become a thing of the past. At the Second Congress of Researchers of Dance (CORD) in 1969, anthropologist Joan Wheeler Keali'inohomoku made a report that turned the then ideas about "ethnic dance" upside down. The report was titled provocatively: "The anthropologist looks at ballet as a form of ethnic dance." The author showed how conventional and culturally dependent those forms of dance that are considered “high art” in the West, and how derogatory the epithet “ethnic” that Western ethnographers apply to non-Western dance forms. She urged to abandon the myths that nourish and support armchair anthropologists, and move on to the field study of dance, both non-Western and Western. Her colleague, South African dancer Dread Williams taught in the early 1970s history of dance by a group of students in Ghana. To tell them about the history of ballet, she had to first explain what European theater is. A completely different teaching context forced her to reconsider Western-centric views on dance. Williams took up anthropology and wrote a dissertation that combined the study of the Catholic mass, academic ballet and martial arts. Together with Keali'inohomoku and other researchers, new wave anthropologists created a new discipline - the anthropology of movement and dance, including the study of different dance forms and styles, sign languages ​​and other systems of human action.

Dancing is a great way to learn about different people and different communities. For example, by studying the so-called "mass Soviet dance", we understand a lot about Russia in the 1920s and 1930s. "Mass dance" arose as a contrast to salon dances - tango, foxtrot and shimmy, which were considered "bourgeois", erotic and generally unworthy of the "new Soviet man". As a result, the choreographers received a social order: to compose such dances that can be danced not in pairs, but in a group. In addition, the dance movements were required to be energetic and simple, similar to physical exercises, and the music was cheerful and cheerful.

School polka. Song and Dance Ensemble of the Moscow City Palace of Pioneers conducted by V.S. Lokteva

Dance is studied by the method of "participant observation" - that is, dancing; sometimes researchers specifically for this purpose master new dance styles for themselves. So, Temple University professor Cheryl Dodds professionally took up neo-burlesque and even performed in Broadway music halls, and performed an ethnographic study of strippers. And then she took up the break and conducted a comparative analysis of neo-burlesque and hip-hop, with an emphasis on the role of facial expressions in them. In general, thanks to the anthropological approach, attention in dance studies eventually shifted from stage dance to the study of how different people dance in everyday life, and from the movements of a professional dancer to the movements of an ordinary body.

Dance, control and freedom

In addition to phenomenologists and anthropologists, new concepts of biopower have had a huge impact on dance studies and understanding of corporeality in general. The French philosopher Michel de Certo argued that all power, including the rule of law, is ultimately imprinted on the backs of its subjects. One can equally well cite the military, sports and ballet as examples, where the control of the body is extremely tight. Reflecting on how disciplinary power affects the bodies of subjects, Michel Foucault also outlined ways in which the body can escape repressive control. At 19In 1966, Foucault gave a lecture “On the Utopian Body” on France Culture Radio, where he emphasized that control over the body is carried out mainly visually, through the look (“to be in front of someone”). What eludes the eye, like kinesthetic sensations that are invisible, can also elude the controlling authority. For this reason, the inner aspects of the body ( embodiment ), including dance, have come to be seen as a possible refuge from social pressure. With the help of disciplinary practices, power inscribes itself in the body of subordinates, however, through their kinesthetic experiences, an individual can regain power over his own body and, ultimately, gain agency, subjectivity. Therefore, dance is not only a bodily discipline, but also the vitality experienced by the subject, the joy of existence, the poetry of movement. It is impossible to comprehend dance only through the concepts of control or discipline, without referring to the category of freedom, from freedom of movement in time and space to freedom of improvisation. It is no coincidence that the founders of a new, “free” (from the ballet framework) dance at the beginning of the 20th century used the words “rapture”, “ecstasy” and “Dionysianism” in their self-descriptions.

“Masurca Fogo”, Pina Bausch

Dance as knowledge

Now there is a lot of discussion about the fact that knowledge can be generated with the help of the body. It is argued that dance combines propositional knowledge, knowledge of what, with skill, or knowledge of how. In the modern dance environment, creative work is equated with research. This is evidenced by the use of the terms "research" and "lab" (sometimes they say: "make research", instead of "make choreography"). When creating choreography, especially if it is intended not for a standard stage, but for a different, non-theatrical place ( site-specific ), the dancer explores space, time and situation with the help of movement.

It is believed that movement precedes cognitive processes and can even generate them. At the heart of our will and goal-setting, the French philosopher Maine de Biran argued back in the 18th century, is movement. He was the first to describe "an effort of will" - an internal tension, a bodily perceptible "spiritual impulse." Movement precedes thought, giving internal coordinates, a “body scheme” (top-bottom, inside-outside, right-left, etc.) - with their help, a person cognizes space and, ultimately, learns to think in abstractions. Before Kant began to talk about schemas in thinking, Aristotle called movement and gesture schemas. Following the Soviet physiologist Nikolai Bernstein, the concept of kinesthetic intelligence began to be used by the American psychologist Howard Gardner. According to Maxine Sheets-Johnston, kinesthetic intelligence is inherent not only to humans, but to all animals - insofar as they can move and coordinate their movements. Other philosophers and anthropologists, including famous Tim Ingold and Kerry Noland, agree with her that moving we get a unique experience, almost equal to the intellectual one. They argue that by performing new movements, we acquire more than just skills ( skilling ), but also new kinesthetic, bodily knowledge.

For example, until now, in some martial arts, in particular, Japanese, before picking up a sword, beginners study calligraphy for a year - they draw hieroglyphs. Hieroglyphs are drawn with a brush dipped in ink, and, what is very important, in one movement. This means that they can no longer be corrected, erased or, conversely, painted on. Calligraphy is a movement as precise as a performative gesture or a dance step. If a student writes a hieroglyph badly, the Master will hang this hieroglyph on the wall in the classroom, and it will hang there for a year, and the student will see all the time how badly he wrote it. And yet, say budo masters, calligraphy and sword fighting have a common principle of body movement. To draw a character in one continuous movement, the hand must follow the impulse coming from the center of the body. And when you fight with swords, the body is also involved as a whole, following the impulse from the center. The resulting sensations are a great example of knowledge as coming from kinesthetic experience.

But how can this knowledge be shared with others, made universal, turned into theoretical? In order to turn into knowledge useful to others, bodily experience must somehow be verbalized or formalized. Teachers transfer knowledge both in a dance class, at a seminar or workshop, and also create new formats: lecture-performance, lecture-demonstration. The already mentioned Cheryl Dodds recently delivered a performative lecture on the "epistemology of break dancing." At the center of knowledge production, Dodds argues, is "acting," "doing" something; in break training practices, she finds an alternative model of pedagogy - through inclusion in the community, training in a team.

Lecture by Cheryl Dodds “Breaking expectations: the skills and values ​​of hip-hop dance”

My own dance studies lectures often take the form of a performance lecture, moving into a practical lesson - for example, Duncan dance, musical movement, "mass Soviet dance". At the same time, it is important for me that the participants acquire this kind of knowledge, including through the body, so that it becomes embodied knowledge ( embodied knowledge ). Sometimes this format causes an ambiguous reaction in the academic community, where knowledge is traditionally considered only verbalized knowledge, presented in the form of a text.

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