Martha Graham once said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul and of the body.” And that, my friend, would be utterly true. Watch any professional dancer on the stage and you’ll see how much passion and dedication are portrayed as the dancer gets lost in the music and rhythm.
Although the history of dance is somewhat cynical, there is something about it that never fails to captivate us. Dance is an innovation of art that isn’t just a social pastime but a profession to many people. It continues to evolve from one generation to another. Today, we are blessed to have various dances to treasure and enjoy. Looking back in time, the history of dance is rich with interesting events that shape its very foundation to the different styles that we perfect over periods of hundreds of years. From ballroom to hip hop, jazz to ballet, salsa to sway, tango to mambo and ancient rituals to modern dances — dance has come a long, long way. It continues to exist in many forms for a lot of purposes in mind from education, to social, to leisure, passion and even politics.
History accounts cited that the archaeological proof of dance’s first existence can be traced back to those nine thousand old paintings in caves over in India. The earliest form of structured dances were used by Egyptian priests to create and visualize storytelling rituals both for entertainment and religion. Dance also plays a very important role to Romans and Greek ceremonies. As depicted in history books, dance, at whatever form, has always been a part of a country’s culture.
European medieval dances were once popular among common and wealthy classes. As time went by, during the Renaissance, a lot of new dances were created. The waltz started in the mid-19th century and became very popular. The English Queen Victoria fell in-love with waltz and it has been loved in the UK since her era.
Ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance Courts and was widely funded by the wife of King Henry II of France. Later on, ballet became popular in France. Ballet and its popularity continued to spread around the world and it was eventually loved in Russia in the nineteenth century. Popular ballet acts such as The Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty were all created in Russia.
Tango is deep rooted and was first danced in Europe before the First World War. Often, you can see the symbol of a cat stalking its prey as a signature move in tango. Today, tango sits a throne in ballroom dance rooms and people adore it!
Rumba is associated with fun and parties. Rumba’s first big influence can be tracked back in the 16th century. This type of dance is loved for its vigorous, expressive movements along with the lively tune from drums, maracas and other percussion.
Enter the 1970s, the time when hip hop began to move its groove in South Bronx, New York. Sometimes called street dancing, hip hop has become an evolving culture with various styles like breaking, popping and locking. The modern world, specifically youth, have continued to adopt hip hop up until now.
Tap dance is another popular dance up until the present time with its existence dating back to as far as the mid-1800s. The dance requires you to create a tapping sound and in which the dancer also becomes the musician of their very own dance routines.
Dance’s history is surely more than what ancient books or cave walls can depict. Whatever or wherever the first dance was on Earth, it since has come a long way. Whoever it was to have created the very first dance — that is something we may never know. There is something about great dancers that will fascinate you. They are disciplined and perfectionists. With their routines, they are on their peaked motor fitness, have strong endurance and outstanding muscular strength. They are agile, flexible and well-coordinated.
Dancing offers a lot of health benefits as well, from weight management to cognitive improvements and even in building better social skills. It is said to strengthen the heart and lungs and help in building stronger bones and reducing risk of osteoporosis. What’s more fascinating is that everyone can dance. Don’t say you can’t dance because everybody can!