Social Dance: A Short History

Social Dance: A Short History

Social Dance: A Short History

Social Dance: A Short History

Excerpt

The dance is godlike in itself. It is a gift from heaven. Plato

Primitive man is frequently attributed with any number of instincts and attributes which he may or may not have possessed. As far as his dance is concerned everything written about it is a matter for little more than mere conjecture. We have no knowledge whatever of the precise nature of the dance of any period or of any people before the fifteenth century; and even then a great deal of that knowledge is at the outset far from certain. All that we can assume is that every age since the birth of man has been characterized and symbolized by some kind of dance. In fact the whole development of dance depends upon the constantly changing points of view which have affected man's ideals and emotions rather than a mere description of the steps and techniques of the forms of dance in each period. Academic historians have ignored the dance in their researches presumably because of the impossibility of obtaining knowledge as accurate as in other forms of past human activity, for although there have been many efforts to record human movement, even in primitive times, none of them has been comprehensive and few successful, even within their own limitations, until the twentieth century.

Before we proceed further perhaps a definition of our subject is needed. In all its ramifications dance can be defined as rhythmic human movement performed as an outlet for or an expression of ideas or emotions. But rhythmic human movement covers a wide field and our immediate conception of it will vary according to our own outlook and in what part of the world we were born. In parts of the West, for example, our movements are largely governed by our legs with the arms and head, generally speaking, playing a more or less subordinate role. In parts of the East, on the other hand, the arms and body have for . . .

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