The Origins of Dance

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According to, "It is unlikely that any human society...has denied itself the excitement and pleasure of dancing." At the earliest beginnings of recorded history, dance was used as a form of ritual, entertainment and recreation. In ancient civilizations found throughout the world, such as in Greece, Egypt and India, dance was even used as a form of worship.

The modern form of dance we are familiar with today began in France in the 16th century. The first dramatic ballet, "Balet Comique de la Reine", was performed as a part of a wedding in 1581. The dancers in these early ballets were generally members of the court. However, King Louis XVI, who very much enjoyed watching these ballets, decided in 1661 that ballet performances should be left to the most accomplished dancers. Therefore, he decided to establish a dance company called Academie Royale de Danse. The director of the dance company, Pierre Beauchamp, has been given credit for the creation of the five basic dance positions.

From this time, the popularity of dance grew and spread, eventually coming to the United States where classical ballet slowly mingled with other forms. A dance form called modern dancing began in the early 1900s as a reaction against what some believed was the stiff, emotionless European ballets. African dance also had an enormous effect on dance and, combined with ballet, was a root of hip-hop and jazz dance. Different types of music, such as rock and rap, also led to the development of hip-hop dance.