History of Dance
The history of dance could be as long as the history of humankind and before. Dance does not leave behind clearly identifiable physical artifacts 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.
Another early use of dance 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.
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
Late 20th centurey
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, dcor 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.
Dance is a type of art that generally involves movement of the body, often rhythmic and to music. It is performed in many cultures as a form of emotional expression, social interaction, or exercise, in a spiritual or performance setting, and is sometimes used to express ideas or tell a story.
Dance may also be regarded as a form of nonverbal communication between humans or other animals, as in bee dances and behaviour patterns such as a mating dances.
Definitions of what constitutes dance can depend on social and cultural norms and aesthetic, artistic and moral sensibilities.
Definitions may range from functional movement (such as folk dance) to virtuoso techniques such as ballet. Martial arts kata are often compared to dances, and sports such as gymnastics, figure skating and synchronized swimming are generally thought to incorporate dance.
There are many styles and genres of dance. African dance is interpretative. Ballet, ballroom and tango are classical dance styles. Square dance and electric slide are forms of step dance, and breakdancing is a type of street dance. Dance can be participatory, social, or performed for an audience.
It can also be ceremonial, competitive or erotic. Dance movements may be without significance in themselves, as in ballet or European folk dance, or have a gestural vocabulary or symbolic meaning as in some Asian dances.
Choreography is the art of creating dances. The person who creates (i.e., choreographs) a dance is known as the choreographer.
Dance does not leave behind clearly identifiable physical artifacts such as stone tools, hunting implements or cave paintings. It is not
possible to say when dance became part of human culture, but archeological evidence indicates dance has been an important part of ceremony, rituals, celebrations and entertainment since the earliest human civilizations. Examples of such evidence include 9,000 year old paintings in India at the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, and Egyptian tomb paintings depicting dancing figures, dated c. 3300 BC.
One of the earliest structured uses of dances may have been the telling of myths. Before the invention of written languages, dance was one of the methods of passing stories down from generation to generation. Dance was also used to show feelings for one of the opposite gender. It is also linked to the origin of "love making." Another early use of dance 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.
Many contemporary dance forms can be traced back to historical, traditional, ceremonial, and ethnic dance. For example, some Sri Lankan
dances are related to aboriginal, mythical devils known as "yakkas", and according to local legend, Kandyan dance began as a ritual that broke the magic spell on a bewitched king.
Dance can be categorized in various ways, such as by the number of interacting dancers, as in solo dance, partner dance and group dance,
or by purpose, as in ceremonial dance, erotic dance, performance dance, and social dance.
Dance genres are often categorized by ethnicity or geographic region.
Dance in India
During the first millennium BCE in India, many texts were composed which attempted to codify aspects of daily life. In the matter of dance, Bharata Muni's Natyashastra (literally "the text of dramaturgy") is one of the earlier texts. Though the main theme of Natyashastra deals with drama, dance is also widely featured, and indeed the two concepts have ever since been linked in Indian culture. The text elaborates various hand-gestures or mudras and classifies movements of the various limbs of the body, gait, and so on. The Natyashastra categorised dance into four groups and into four regional varieties, naming the groups: secular, ritual, abstract, and, interpretive. However, concepts of regional geography has altered and so have regional varieties of Indian dances. Dances like "Odra Magadhi", which after decades long debate, has been traced to present day Mithila, Odisha region's dance form of Odissi (Orissi), indicate influence of dances in cultural interactions between different regions.
From these beginnings rose the various classical styles which are recognised today. Therefore, all Indian classical dances are to varying degrees rooted in the Natyashastra and therefore share common features: for example, the mudras, some body positions, and the inclusion of dramatic or expressive acting or abhinaya. The Indian classical music tradition provides the accompaniment for the dance, and as percussion is such an integral part of the tradition, the dancers of nearly all the styles wear bells around their ankles to counterpoint and complement the percussion.
Bhangra in the Punjab
The Punjab area overlapping India and Pakistan is the place of origin of Bhangra. It is widely known both as a style of music and a dance. It is mostly related to ancient harvest celebrations, love, patriotism or social issues. Its music is coordinated by a musical instrument called the 'Dhol'. Bhangra is not just music but a dance, a celebration of the harvest where people beat the dhol (drum), sing Boliyaan (lyrics) and dance.It developed further with the Vaisakhi festival of the Sikhs.
Dances of Sri Lanka
The devil dances of Sri Lanka or "yakun natima" are a carefully crafted ritual with a history reaching far back into Sri Lanka's pre-Buddhist past. It combines ancient "Ayurvedic" concepts of disease causation with psychological manipulation. The dance combines many aspects including Sinhalese cosmology, the dances also has an impact on the classical dances of Sri Lanka.
Europe and North America
Concert (or performance) Dance
Ballet developed first in Italy and then in France from lavish court spectacles that combined music, drama, poetry, song, costumes and dance. Members of the court nobility took part as performers. During the reign of Louis XIV, himself a dancer, dance became more codified. Professional dancers began to take the place of court amateurs, and ballet masters were licensed by the French government. The first ballet dance academy was the AcadÃ©mie Royale de Danse (Royal Dance Academy), opened in Paris in 1661. Shortly thereafter, the first institutionalized ballet troupe, associated with the Academy, was formed; this troupe began as an all-male ensemble but by 1681 opened to include women as well.
20th-century Concert Dance
At the beginning of the 20th century, there was an explosion of innovation in dance style characterized by an exploration of freer technique. Early pioneers of what became known as modern dance include Loie Fuller, Isadora Duncan, Mary Wigman and Ruth St. Denis. The relationship of music to dance serves as the basis for Eurhythmics, devised by Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, which was influential to the development of Modern dance and modern ballet through artists such as Marie Rambert. Eurythmy, developed by Rudolf Steiner and Marie Steiner-von Sivers, combines formal elements reminiscent of traditional dance with the new freer style, and introduced a complex new vocabulary to dance. In the 1920s, important founders of the new style such as Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey began their work. Since this time, a wide variety of dance styles have been developed; see Modern dance.
African American Dance
African American dances are those dances which have developed within African American communities in everyday spaces, rather than in dance studios, schools or companies and its derivatives, tap dance, disco, jazz dance, swing dance, hip hop dance and breakdance. Other dances, such as the lindy hop with its relationship to rock and roll music and rock and roll dance have also had a global influence.
Dancing and Music
Many early forms of music and dance were created and performed together. This paired development has continued through the ages with dance/music forms such as the jig, waltz, tango, disco, salsa, electronica and hip-hop. Some musical genres have a parallel dance form such as baroque music and baroque dance; others, such as classical music and classical ballet, developed separately.
Although dance is often accompanied by music, it can also be presented independently or provide its own accompaniment (tap dance). Dance presented with music may or may not be performed in time to the music depending on the style of dance. Dance performed without music is said to be danced to its own rhythm.