How many years has dance been around

dance - Kids | Britannica Kids

Ancient Dance and Traditions

Paintings made in caves more than 10,000 years ago suggest that even the earliest peoples danced. The first written records of dance date back some 4,000 years to the ancient Egyptians. Dance was a crucial element in festivals for their gods. The ancient Egyptians also brought skilled dancers from central Africa to Egypt to provide entertainment.

Many cultures in Asia have a long history of formal, theatrical dance. In India the earliest book discussing dance is more than 1,500 years old. Bharata-natya is a classical dance form based on this book. The dances of the Japanese royal court are called bugaku. They were adapted from traditional dances of China, Korea, India, and Southeast Asia. Dance is also an important feature of traditional forms of Japanese drama.

For the ancient Greeks dance was an important part of religious ceremonies as well as everyday life. Dances at festivals to honor a god developed into Greek drama in the 400s bce. Later in ancient Rome religious festivals also featured dances.

Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages (500–1500 ce) in Europe traveling acrobats danced to entertain crowds. Some festivals on Christian feast days also featured dancing. But some Christian leaders of the time thought dancing was sinful.

Social dancing became important to the nobles of the Middle Ages. The upper classes learned to move gracefully in formal dances for couples. The peasants had their own dances. They usually sang and danced in large lively groups.


During a period in Europe called the Renaissance (mid-1300s to 1500s) dancing became an art, not just an entertainment. The royal courts began to stage festive pageants that combined dance, music, and drama. Professional dancers began performing ballet in theaters in the 1660s. From then on ballet was a form of theatrical dancing separate from social dancing.

Theatrical Dancing

Professional dancers and teachers developed a formal ballet technique. It was based on basic poses and steps. Ballet became extremely popular in France in the 1700s. In the 1800s the French dancer Marius Petipa went to Russia. He helped make that country the center of the ballet world. In the early 1900s the Russian arts promoter Sergey Diaghilev helped spread ballet through Europe and the Americas.

At the end of the 1800s the American dancer Isadora Duncan started what is now called modern dance. She felt that the set steps and poses of ballet limited her ability to express herself. She created a new form of dance that was free-spirited and highly personal. Many other dancers developed their own styles of modern dance in the 1900s. One of the most influential was Martha Graham. Her company and school trained generations of important modern dancers.

The American choreographer Agnes de Mille made dancing an important part of musical theater. Her production of the musical Oklahoma! in 1943 mixed ballet, folk, and modern dance. The dances Jerome Robbins created for West Side Story (1957) brought a new edge to musical theater. Robbins influenced later Broadway choreographers such as Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett.

Social Dancing

Once ballet became a professional form, the dancing done in the European royal courts was social dancing. Starting in the 1700s dances were held in ballrooms and houses. That way more people could participate.

Over the years, various dance forms went in and out of style. Some of the most popular were the minuet (1600s and 1700s) and waltz (1700s and 1800s). As music became less formal in the 1900s, so did social dances. Popular music—from big band to rock and roll and house music—has continued to inspire new forms of social dancing.

Dance Facts and History

Dance is a form of art that is made by purposefully recreating selected sequences of human motion, which can be imbued with the values of aesthetic and symbolism that are acknowledged by both performers and observers from within the particular culture. The dance itself can be freeform or can have a predefined choreography that may or may not align with traditions of origin or historical period.

The dance can be performed to serve various functions (social, competitive, ceremonial, martial, erotic…) but it also has two distinct forms – theatrical dance in which dancers perform for an audience, and participatory social dance where dancing in a group is encouraged to anyone. Participatory dances are most commonly found at weddings, social gatherings, and festivals, and they can be enjoyed with folk music both alone or in a group (pairs, lines, chains or other forms).

Theatrical dance is known for having more elaborate choreography, planning, costume, scenery and other elements that make the entire production feel more professional. The performers of theatrical dance are usually professional “ virtuoso dancers”, who practice their craft over the years, and are often tasked to interpret the musical accompaniment with advanced dance moves or routines.

Origins and Early History

The dance has always been with us, even before the arrival of written language and modern history, when our earliest cultures evolved utilizing oral and performance methods to pass the stories from one generation to the next. Many historians believe that social, celebratory and ritual dances are one of the essential factors of the development of early human civilizations.

The earliest findings have pinpointed the origins of ancient dances in 9000-year-old India or 5300-year-old Egypt, but the records more common infusion of dance into a modern culture can be found from Ancient Greece, China, and India. All these old dances evolved, eventually morphing into a wide variety of Roman and European medieval dances, traditional Chinese dances, Hindi and other traditional dances, respectively.

After the arrival of European Renaissance, the history of music and dance exploded with the new additions to song and dance. Ease of travel and immigration to the new world brought these dances into the mix with many native cultures of the New World, forging countless new dance types that are still popular to this day.

Do you know these facts about dance?

  • First archeological proof of dance comes from the 9 thousand year old cave paintings in India.
  • One of the earliest uses of structured dance was introduced in religious ceremonies that told the stories of ancient myths and gods. Egyptian priests used this kind of visual storytelling in their rituals.
  • Ancient Egyptians used dancing for both entertainment and religion.
  • Dance represented important parts of many Greek and Roman religious ceremonies.
  • Ancient Greeks and Romans annually celebrated their wine gods Dionysus and Bacchus with several days long festivities filled with alcohol, song and dance.
  • History of European medieval dance is fragmented and limited, but is believed that simple folk dances were widespread among common and wealthy classes.
  • Modern dance history in Europe started with Renaissance, when many new dances were invented. After that, periods of Baroque, post French Revolution, Elizabethan era, World War 1, Prohibition, Ragtime and pre-WW2 brought many new waves of dance styles.
  • Waltz, one of the most popular dances today came into popularity in mid-19th century by the efforts of the famous composer Johann Strauss, but its origins can be traced even to the distant 16th century.
  • At first, waltz was performed with arm's length between male and female dances. The shocking transition to the close embrace happened only after English Queen Victoria fell in love with the dance and forced this change.
  • Around 30 thousand people are employed in UK dance industry today, maintaining around 200 dance companies.
  • Even people in wheelchairs can dance! Such dancing is very popular in Europe where there are even competitions in Latin dances with special wheelchair choreographies.
  • Professional dance is today regarded as one of the most demanding physical abilities and sports. According to studies, 80% of all professional dances have at least one major injury during their career and staggering 93% of all dance teachers were forced into that position after career ending injury.
  • High amount of injuries in professional dancing is induced by high levels of fatigue, little time for rest, inadequate healing techniques and high stress levels. All those factors can produce burn out periods when dancers have decreased strength, coordination, cognitive and immune functions.
  • Lion Dance is one of the most popular religious and ceremonious dances in China and surrounding countries of Taiwan, Korea and Japan. This dance can signify bringing of good fortune, ward of evil spirits and be an excellent showcase in martial arts proficiency.

After several thousand years, dancing managed to completely infuse itself into our way of life. Here you can find more information about this fascinating activity and the impact it can have on our lives.

Since the dawn of human civilization, dance remained in close connection with us. Here you can find out more about this fascinating part of our culture, all from its roots in ancient civilizations to the modern times.

Thousand years of innovations and evolution created modern dance that we all enjoy today. Here you can find out more about specific dance styles and the way they are implemented and created.

There are many specific dances which can be sorted into single dance styles or families of related dances. Here you can read more about specific dances and variants of a specific dance.

Facts about Dancing

  • Professional dances are today regarded as athletes.
  • Dancing is very beneficial to your health. It lowers the chances for heart and blood vessel diseases, improves posture and weight, reduces stress and tension, improve brain function because of constant presence of music, and can improve relationship between dance partners.
  • Because of the need to maintain strict head position while dancing, doctors often prescribe use of dance for those patients that need to develop their peripheral vision.
  • First balled dancer that used pointe shoes was Marie Taglioni in 1832 ballet "La Sylphide".
  • One tutu shoe cost up to $2000 dollars to be made, and one ballerina wears between 2 and three pairs per week.
  • Because of high physical demand on their bodies, most professional dances retire from dancing during their mid-30s.
  • Famous modern dance Cha-Cha originated from Cuba.
  • Famous energetic ballroom dance can-can (or cancan), which is performed by the row of female dances in long skirts originated form 1830s Paris ballrooms.
  • Origin of tap-dancing comes from the tribal dances of African slaves. Their arrival in North America introduced that dance to the western audiences.
  • Dancing with metal tap shoes became popular in United States during 1920s and 1930s. One of the most famous tap-dancing performers of that time were Nicholas brothers, who were instrumental into bringing that style of dance into Hollywood movies.
  • Famous movie stars such as Fred Astaire, Ray Bolger and Gene Kelley used tap-dancing to enchant the minds of the worldwide audience with great success.
  • Hindu religion has very close relationship to dance and music. This connection can most visible be seen in their countless Bollywood movies that all celebrate dancing.
  • One of the dances that managed to completely change the landscape of dance history is polka! This energetic dance that was focused for young women that liked to jump, hop and turn swept across the world in mid-19th century.
  • Dancing represent great physical exercise for the people of all age. It can be safely practiced from the age of 2 to 102!
  • Many historical waves of dances were perceived as the "destructors" of the old way of dance. Examples of that can be found in the 1920's Charleston and the era of Rock music.
  • First ballroom dance that was ever created is Italian Viennese Waltz.
  • One of the reason that ballroom dancing is starting to return into popularity is because famous TV competition show "Dancing with the Stars".
  • African slaves that were brought in Brazil 300-400 years ago were prohibited from practicing martial arts. Therefore, they developed the mix of dancing and fighting that is known today as capoeira.
  • Breakdancing was first created as a "less lethal" form of fighting between warring African-American street gangs in 1970s Bronx area of New York City. This form of dancing re-emerged into worldwide popularity during 1990s.
  • Dance marathon competition started as early as 14th century England. They reached height of their popularity in the bloom of US entertainment expansion during 1930s depression era. Some competitions were performed in the 22 day long marathons.
  • The most sensual dance of modern times is without a doubt a Tango. It originated from 1890s Argentina, but it quickly became very successful in Europe.

The history of the origin of dance | Dance Studio "Chance"

From the moment when a person starts walking, moving, running, he expresses himself plastically. Sometimes, in order to understand each other, a gesture, a turn of the head, a glance is enough. Everyone is capable of plastic expression of their emotions, therefore dance unites people.

Stages of development of dances:

1. Ancient dance

Dance began its life together with man. The history of the emergence of dance is inextricably linked with the history of human culture. He participated in various aspects of practical life. There were dances ritual, hunting, labor, military. They were passed down from generation to generation, over time their magical meaning (and the nature of the ancient dance was permeated with it) was lost, forgotten, but for thousands of years the people kept their special plastic language.

No matter how smart a person is, no matter how wide the range of his interests, his life, if he is not able to express his feelings in music, in song, in dance, inevitably turns out to be impoverished.

In ancient Greece, the Greeks understood the nature of dance. For them, dance is able to reveal what drama, music, painting are powerless to face. Look at ancient Greek stelae, red-figure or black-figure vases. It seems to let the images speak and they lose their expressiveness. Here the bodies themselves delight, scream, rejoice. We say it's plastic.

2. Folk dance

Dance was an integral part of any folk festivities. We cannot imagine real fun without dancing. The energy of joy, apparently, is a special energy, because it inevitably splashes out, pours out into movement. Every nation, every nationality has its own special set of movements, its own rhythm, a very special plasticity. This was fixed and turned out to be as persistent as the national costume, the national character. Different eras, changes in the way of life, in social and cultural relations were reflected in the dance. Fashion also influenced the development of dance.

3. Ballroom dancing

When the dance moved from the squares to the halls of the palaces, it became an expression of the lifestyle of the ruling strata of society. They said about the favorite minuet in the 18th century: “He who dances the minuet well, does well everything that he undertakes, and can undertake everything.”

Elegance of manners, nobility of posture, refined reverence, which were necessary in a minuet, were the most necessary qualities of a courtier.
In those days, ballet appeared at the court, which very soon became the favorite pastime of kings. It is known that Henry IV and his minister Sully danced in a ballet composed by the king's sister; loved to participate in the ballet Louis XIV.

4. Ballet

In Russia, the first ballet was staged during the reign of Alexei Mikhailovich at Shrovetide in 1672, its plot was borrowed from ancient life.

Dance has endured a long battle to become an art in its own right, separate from singing and drama. And so Terpsichore began to be called the muse of ballet. There was such a profession as a composer of dances, in most cases he is also their director (we say - choreographer).

I was surprised by the outwardly brilliant and always difficult fate of the ballerina. The dance consolidated its own laws, rules, summed up certain movements that exist to this day. As in painting there are colors, in music there are notes, so in classical ballet there are certain poses, movements, from which, like letters, choreographers, and then actors add words, from words - phrases, from phrases - poems, stories, novels.

A special plastic language emerged, capable of conveying the most complex movements of the soul. A language that has been studied with incredible perseverance and dedication for decades, for a lifetime.

But thousands of people may not and do not know this language. They dance the waltz, foxtrot, krakowiak, polka, tango, sheik, letka-enka... These dances, the style, the culture that should be visible in their performance is a special topic.

date, history and traditions of the holiday

Dance is one of the most ancient arts. He helped to express emotions, was part of the rituals, they celebrated all significant events. Each nation had its own dance traditions. Ritual dances were replaced by folk and salon dances, and then the basis of ballet arose - classical dance.

When is Dance Day celebrated in Russia and around the world

International Dance Day is celebrated all over the world April 29, .

History of the holiday

The holiday was established in 1982 at the initiative of the International Dance Council (CID) of UNESCO. The date was proposed by teacher and choreographer Pyotr Gusev. It was not chosen by chance - on April 29, Jean-Georges Noverre, French choreographer, choreographer and ballet theorist, reformer, who went down in history as the "father of modern ballet", was born. He was a student of the choreographer L. Dupre, performed as a dancer and led the ballet troupe at the Drury Lane Theater in London. For a long time, ballet was only part of an opera performance, but Noverre was the first to start staging independent dance performances. He also proposed to rid the dancers of bulky outfits and masks that interfere with the performance of pirouettes. He owns the work "Letters on dance and ballets" (1759), in which he outlined the principles of the ballet-play. He was embodied with the help of the actual dance and pantomime.

Holiday traditions

Dance is a universal language that unites people of different cultures and nationalities, and International Dance Day is an occasion to pay attention to this art form. It is dedicated to all styles and trends, from ballet to hip-hop.

Of course, the celebration is associated with various dance events: actors put on performances, including street performances, theaters and schools hold open days, people arrange massive dance flash mobs and dance evenings of various styles.

There are also traditional official events, such as the annual address of an outstanding figure in the world of choreography. The purpose of such a performance is to draw attention to the ability of dance to unite people, its beauty, as well as congratulations to colleagues. The ballet dancer Henrik Neubauer was the first to deliver such a message in 1982.

Among others there were choreographers Yuri Grigorovich, Robert Joffrey, Hans van Manen, Magi Marin, Maurice Bejart, Jiri Kilian, Mats Ek, Stefan Page, Sasha Waltz, dancer Kazuo Ono (one of the founders of the butoh dance), dancers and choreographers Merce Cunningham, William Forsyth (creator of the improvisation technique), Gladys Agulhas, Akram Khan, Julio Bocca, Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker, Lin Hwai-min, dancer Catherine Dunham, ballerinas Maya Plisetskaya, Alicia Alonso, Miyako Yoshida (Yoshida), Ulyana Lopatkina.

International Dance Day is a time for awards and prizes. In Russia, on this day, the only professional ballet award "The Soul of Dance" is awarded. It was founded in 1994 by the Ballet magazine together with the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.

Since 1991 there has also been the "Benoit of the Dance", an annual ballet festival founded by the International Association of Choreographers. The first award ceremony and gala concert took place in 1992 at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.

Dance directions

There are a large number of directions and styles. The culture of various peoples is reflected in folklore dances. The history of ballroom dancing dates back to the 14th century.

Sports ballroom dancing, which is on the verge of dance art and sports, can be distinguished into a special category.

Social dances, on the other hand, are done not for competition, but for leisure and the exchange of positive emotions.

Outside the dance studios, on the streets and parties, street dances such as breakdancing appeared.

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