Shimmy your way into the world of Dance in the best way by educating yourself on the history of it all. Defined as a graceful sequence of steps set rhythmically to music, dance has been an art form that has been celebrated throughout history. No longer just a form of entertainment for the elite or for religious ceremonies, Dance has now transformed into a competitive sport, type of exercise, and even therapy. To help you learn a thing or two about the history of dance, we’ve put together 10 quickies to help you on your way. Enjoy!
Fact 1: In Strasbourg, France, during the year 1518, the phenomenon that was called the “Dancing Plague” broke out; a craze that lasted a total of four weeks. Dance insanity led to the death of hundreds of people due to extreme exhaustion, and in most cases, heart attacks, all because of rigorous non-stop dancing!
Fact 2: The sexiest form of dance known to man? The Tango! The sensual dance originated in Argentina back in 1890, later spreading throughout most parts of Europe and becoming a worldwide sensation. Today, it remains the most popular partner dance. Fun fact: the dance is a mix of Argentinian, Uruguayan, European, and African-American influences!
Fact 3: The intricate dance that is Ballet first broke out during the 18th century. A classic and graceful performance that was first used as entertainment for royalty. Soon, the art form and its theatrical roots broke into a more modern fit. Instead of the bulky costumes and thick make up, ballerinas are now seen pirouetting in tutus and sleek buns.
Fact 4: For centuries, dance has been used for entertainment and has been integrated into religious ceremonies. The Ancient Greeks used dance for such reason, while the Greek and Roman people paid homage to their wine gods Dionysus and Bacchus by celebrating week long festivities filled with wine, song, and dance.
Fact 5: Before breakdancing become the hip-hop infused street style of dance we love today, it was first originally created by early warring African-American gangsters to settle their street fights without resulting into violence. Originally a mix of martial arts and dance, the forms and intricate movements of the popular dance eventually made it out of the gangster wars and into the dance scene.
Fact 6: The ever-popular Lion Dance is a traditional Chinese ceremonious dance with religious roots; often celebrated within Mainland China as well as neighboring countries such as Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. Performing the Lion dance- a grand performance where dancers perform underneath a Dragon costume- is said to usher in luck, fortune, and prosperity.
Fact 7: The classic Waltz, a type of dance that was made popular due to the efforts of Johann Strauss during the 19th century, was a type of ballroom dance originally performed with the male and female dancing an arm’s length apart. It wasn’t until Queen Victoria rose into power and had the dance changed. Instead of dancing so far apart from each other, she had the dance have partners embrace while dancing.
Fact 8: The Foxtrot got its name from legendary Vaudeville actor Harry Fox, the man responsible for giving birth to the classic dance step. When you put together trotting steps and ragtime music, you get to breathe life into the famous “Fox’s trot”.
Fact 9: The first ever record of a dance set to a ¾ rhythm is the romantic Viennese Waltz; a peasant dance that originated in Provence, France, during 1559. Set to special folk music known as Volta, the dance is one of the most intricate and demanding performance to date.
Fact 10: Dance is composed of seven primary movements, namely: Bending, Gliding, Turning, Stretching, Jumping, Rising, as well as Darting. The art form is isn’t only great to look at, it’s great for the body, too. A three hour dance session is equivalent to playing two full length soccer games, or running about 19 miles.