Dance probably has been around about as long as people have. Cave paintings thousands of years old show what look like dancing figures. Dancers appear in the art of ancient Egypt and Greece. Through dance, societies asked their gods for good crops or bravery in battle.
Hundreds of years ago the Christian church frowned upon dancing. But farmers and villagers still danced for fun. Many of these dances developed into folk dances. Ballet grew out of dances at the royal courts of France and Italy in the 1500s and 1600s.
Drama, acrobatics, and music are combined with dance in many cultures. People added makeup, costumes, and masks to turn dance into theater. These performances tell a story using movements rather than words.
Any Body Can Dance
Our bodies can twist, jump, stretch, and turn. Dance blends these movements together, usually with music. Dance uses space: What patterns do the dancers make across the floor? What designs do dancers’ arms and legs brush through the air? Dance uses time: Is the dance fast or slow? What rhythm pulses in the music? Dance uses weight: Are the steps light and quick, or heavy and limp? Dance uses energy: Does the dance have fast, choppy movements, or flowing, soft ones?
Dance constantly evolves, or changes. People seek new forms of expression. Cultures borrow from one another, and from the past. Latin American dance blends Spanish and Native American styles. African and Asian dances influence dance in Europe and North America.