Dance History and Traditions

Each ethnic group develops unique forms of dance and movement. It’s interesting to consider how geographically separated groups devised specialized moves and gestures. And over time these humble beginnings led to increasing levels of complexity and impact.

The circle. Perhaps it was a procession around a fire where it all began. But there is something about moving together in an endless loop that strengthens a community. People operate as one, maintaining contact with one another. These aren’t performances to watch – they are participative rituals.

Weddings and festivals often keep these traditions alive.

Individual forms of dance also vary greatly across races and ethnicities. Just like some birds perform elaborate and bizarre dances to attract a mate, people also have that mating work to do. It seems that each new generation, the group for whom finding a partner is paramount, develops new ways to demonstrate their fitness, readiness and appeal – to music.

Dance as a fine art. Each culture invests in choreographers and dancers who take their communities dance language to new heights – refined, stylized treatments performed by masters and enjoyed by audiences. Geisha from Japan, Cossack from Russia, Flamenco from Spain and Irish Step Dancing are just a few examples. All these performers provide a sense of pride in a person’s heritage.

When we culture hop and visit other communities, participating in these celebrations can bring hard reminders that what looks easy – is not. It might be tempting to think we are simply built differently – that’s why we can’t do it. But, instead, it is eons of lovingly and proudly handing down the traditions, family by family.

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