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History of dance

Posted by russiantahara on February 10, 2009

History of dance
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Veiled dancer, terracotta figurine from Myrina, ca. 150–100 BC. Louvre Museum

Dance does not often leave behind clearly identifiable physical artifacts. that last over millennia, such as stone tools, hunting implements or cave paintings. It is not possible to say when dance became part of human culture. Dance has certainly been an important part of ceremony, rituals, celebrations and entertainment since before the birth of the earliest human civilizations. Archeology delivers traces of dance from prehistoric times such as the 9,000 year old Bhimbetka rock shelters paintings in India and Egyptian tomb paintings depicting dancing figures from circa 3300 BC.

One of the earliest structured uses of dances may have been in the performance and in the telling of myths. It was also sometimes used to show feelings for one of the opposite gender. It is also linked to the origin of “love making.” Before the production of written languages, dance was one of the methods of passing these stories down from generation to generation. [1]

Another early use of danc may have been as a precursor to ecstatic trance states in healing rituals. Dance is still used for this purpose by many cultures from the Brazilian rainforest to the Kalahari Desert.[2]

Sri Lankan dances goes back to the mythological times of aboriginal yingyang twins and “yakkas” (devils). According to a Sinhalese legend, Kandyan dances originate, 2500 years ago, from a magic ritual that broke the spell on a bewitched king. Many contemporary dance forms can be traced back to historical, traditional, ceremonial, and ethnic dances.

An early manuscript describing dance is the Natya Shastra on which is based the modern interpretation of classical Indian dance (e.g. Bharathanatyam).

The ancient chronicle, the Sinhalese (Sri Lankans), the Mahavamsa states when King Vijaya landed in Sri Lanka in 543 BCE he heard sounds of music and dancing from a wedding ceremony. Origins of the Dances of Sri Lanka are dated back to the aborginal tribes. The Classical dances of Sri Lanka, Kandyan Dances features a highly developed system of tala (rhythm), provided by cymbals called thalampataa.

In European culture, one of the earliest records of dancing is by Homer, whose “Iliad”; describes chorea (khoreia). The early Greeks made the art of dancing into a system, expressive of all the different passions. For example, the dance of the Furies, so represented, would create complete terror among those who witnessed them. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, ranked dancing with poetry, and said that certain dancers, with rhythm applied to gesture, could express manners, passions, and actions. The most eminent Greek sculptors studied the attitude of the dancers for their art of imitating the passions.

* Go here for a history of pointe shoes and technique (ballet)

[edit] Late 20th century
Please help improve this section by expanding it. Further information might be found on the talk page. (September 2008)
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It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Modern dance. (Discuss)

After the explosion of modern dance in the early 20th century, the 1960s saw the growth of post modernism. Post modernism veered towards simplicity, the beauty of small things, the beauty of untrained bodies, and unsophisticated movement. The famous ‘No’ manifesto rejecting all costumes, stories and outer trappings in favour of raw and unpolished movement was perhaps the extreme of this wave of thinking. Unfortunately lack of costumes, stories and outer trappings do not make a good dance show, and it was not long before sets, décor and shock value re-entered the vocabulary of modern choreographers.

By the 1980s dance had come full circle and modern dance (or, by this time, ‘contemporary dance’) was clearly still a highly technical and political vehicle for many practitioners. Existing alongside classical ballet, the two art-forms were by now living peacefully next door to one another with little of the rivalry and antipathy of previous eras. In a cleverly designed comment on this ongoing rivalry the brilliant collaboration of Twyla Tharp (one of the 20th Century’s cutting edge Dance avant gardist\(Contemporary) and Ballet dance was ultimately achieved. The present time sees us still in the very competitive artistic atmosphere where choreographers compete to produce the most shocking work, however, there are still glimpses of beauty to be had, and much incredible dancing in an age where dance technique has progressed further in expertise, strength and flexibility than ever before in history.

At the same, mass culture experienced expansion of street dance. In 1974, famous group Jackson 5 performed on television a dance called Robot (choreographed by postmodern artist Michael Jackson). This event, and later Soul Train performances by black dancers ignited street culture revolution, which later formed break dancing rocks dance. For the emergence of 20th century modern dance see also: Mary Wigman, Gret Palucca, Harald Kreutzberg, Yvonne Georgi, and Isadora Duncan.

Hip-hop dance started when Clive Campbell, aka Kool DJ Herc and the father of hip-hop, came to New York from Jamaica in 1967. Toting the seeds of reggae from his homeland, he is credited with being the first DJ to use two turntables and identical copies of the same record to create his jams. But it was his extension of the breaks in these songs – the musical section where the percussive beats were most aggressive – that allowed him to create and name a culture of break boys and break girls who laid it down when the breaks came up. Briefly termed b-boys and b-girls, these dancers founded breakdancing, which is now a cornerstone of hip-hop dance. [3] Tap,Ballet,jazz and lyrical are now the most popular dances

[edit] References

1. ^ Nathalie Comte. “Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World”. Ed. Jonathan Dewald. Vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2004. p94-108.
2. ^ Guenther, Mathias Georg. ‘The San Trance Dance: Ritual and Revitalization Among the Farm Bushmen of the Ghanzi District, Republic of Botswana.’ Journal, South West Africa Scientific Society, v30, 1975-76.
3. ^ http://www.ascendingstardance.com/node/634

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