Dance – Culture and society – Art

We explain what dance is, its origin, and its characteristics. Also, what are its elements and the types of dances that exist?

What is dance?

Dance is an art based on body expression, usually accompanied by music. It is one of the most ancient forms of expression of the human being that can have artistic, entertainment, or religious purposes.

It is also called “the language of the body” and uses a sequence of body movements that rhythmically accompany the music. It is also understood as an expression of emotions since, sometimes, the intention of communicating feelings is pursued through activities.

There are many dances worldwide, and in different cultures, each one has its own rules and steps that must be respected for its execution and require training and the exceptional quality of each dancer. In addition, each dance is characterized by having its clothing.

Origin of the dance

Pictorial records of the dance were found at all times and on different continents, although significance was modified.

In prehistoric times, they danced to the beat of the sounds of nature, which were later accompanied by clapping, the clash of feet, or sticks, which later evolved into musical instruments. Finally, the voice was incorporated. These primitive dances were passionate and spontaneous, seeking to express feelings and moods.

The great civilizations of antiquity, such as Rome, Egypt, and Greece, used dance in rituals: deaths, weddings, receptions, and dances to the divinities, among others.

dance characteristics

Specific characteristics identify the various types of dances. Some are:

Choreography. It involves joining different body movements to form a dance that can be performed by one or several dancers and is usually created by a choreographer. Some dances have pre-established steps, and others allow improvisation and the creation of new measures.
Outfit. It implies the use of a unique costume used by the dancers when dancing. The clothes and accessories used vary according to the type of dance; many dances are represented with their typical costumes, and some are only used for representation in front of an audience.
Training. It involves the study and practice of each dance; training is fundamental to achieving better execution of the details.
Interpretation. It involves the particularities that each dancer brings to the dance; although the choreography is the same, each individual will interpret it with their nuances and styles.

dance elements

The main elements of all dance are:

  • The body. The dancer uses his body to express himself through movements that he performs with a single part of the body or several simultaneously.
  • Space. It is where the dance takes place; the dancer interacts with the environment surrounding him, and he can make small movements or move in various directions.
  • Time. It is the element that determines and guides the movements in the dance. Depending on the time, the signs are identified according to their intensity, speed, or their duration.
  • The action. They are all the dancer’s movements and are part of his dance. It can include activities of the whole body, translations, and facial gestures.
  • Energy. It is the element that determines how the movement occurs, taking into account characteristics such as the use of force, tension, or weight.

types of dances

There are many types and genres of dances; they are generally classified as follows:

  • Popular or folk dances. They are those that are based on the transmission of the traditional culture of a place. They express a culture’s values and its environment’s characteristics: the climate, the fauna, and the flora. Some examples are flamenco, tango, Arabic dance, and ballroom dancing.
  • The classical dances. They are a heritage from ancient times, mainly from the classical period of medieval antiquity, but they have changed over time until they reach our days. These dances are identified because those who execute the movements take harmonious and coordinated steps into account, for example, ballet dance.
  • Modern dances. They are those that reflect a social identity that is manifested in movements or clothing. Examples: popping, funky, break dance, jumpstyle, hip hop, or rock and roll.
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