Dance as an Art Form
Ancient EgyptThe first great culture to diffuse its entire society with the magic of dance was Egypt. Far more than simple pastime, dancing became an essential element of Egyptian life.
Finally these dances were divided from their ritual and became an art of their own. This development at the same time emerged the most important Egyptians' god Osiris. With his mythical sister and wife, Isis; he was a symbol of a more developed civilization on Earth, and belief in him assured perpetual life.
As was true in more primitive cultures, music was a component of these celebrations but not as imperative as the dancing itself. Egyptians had developed different kind of instruments: stringed, wind, and percussion as well as different sorts of whistles and harps.
Dance took part, too, in private life. Professional dancer amused at social events, and traveling troupes gave performances in great cities as Thebes and Alexandria in public squares.
Possibly several of the poses and motions were extremely acrobatic, though in certain instances Egyptian dance steps look notably like steps in classical ballet.
Ancient GreeceMyths related with the Greek god Dionysus are notably similar to those that surround the Egyptians' Osiris. According to the philosopher Aristotle, Greek disaster started in the myth of Dionysus' birth. He narrates that the poet Arion was responsible for establishing the foundation theatrical form, one that integrated dance, music, spoken words, and attires. In all dances there was a principal dancer who was the leader of these presentations. As the form developed, the principal dancer became something similar to what would now be considered a combination choreographer and performer.
In Greek plays dance was of main importance, and the three biggest dramatists of the era--Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides--were familiar with dance in both theory and practice.
Among the Greek inhabitants, dancing was popular, including in earlier times. They believed dancing promote physical health and to influence one's education positively. In Homer's epics, which date from the 11th to 10th century BC, dance is presented as a class of social hobby, not as an activity associated with religious rites. By the end of the 4th century BC, dancing had become a professional activity.
Usually, Greek dances were not based on the relationship between men and women. Most were developed by either one sex or the other.
For musical accompaniment the Greeks used different kind of instruments as the stringed: the lyre, flutes, and panpipe; percussion instruments: tambourines, cymbals and castanets.
In general, Greek had more than 200 dances prepared for every situation and purpose. There were warlike works, and dances for athletes, spectacles, and religious adoration. For only social intents there were dances for weddings, funerals, and seasonal celebrations associated with harvest time. Yet these dances were not as significant as those associated with the theatre. By the 5th century BC, dancing had become recognized as an art.
Roman EmpireAs early as 364 BC performers from Greece were brought to Rome to perform theatrical pieces in honor of the gods and to entertain an inhabitants weary from a plague. These performers stimulated the local inhabitants to develop plays of their own--mimes and rude farces that incorporated elements of dance.
Roman culture, which opaque the Greek in around the 3rd century BC, was in several ways influenced by Grecian models. In dance, however, the Romans deformed the equilibrium and harmony that represented the Greeks, putting the most importance on spectacle and mime.
In 240 BC was originated the Roman theatre, as part of celebrate the victory in the first Punic Wars, comedy and tragedy were performed, including drama, music, and dance. According to the writer Plutarch, dance incorporated three elements: movement, posture, and indication, the last a gesture that pointed out some object near the performer.
Many of dances had a religious nature. They presaged events or calmed the gods. Dances were also designed for diversion.
While dance itself almost disappeared, pantomime became an art form worthy of admiration in itself.
Christian EraDuring the first millennium, the Christianity raise, dramatic ceremonies developed for use throughout prayer. The Latin mass is the best-known of these ceremonies. Initially dance movements were element of these pieces as well as music and a dramatic conversation. By the middle Ages these works moved from indoor the churches to the out-of-doors.
Dance was also developed in two class of activity. In dramatic ceremony games with dance movement the changing of the seasons was celebrated, even as it had been by primitive tribes; and in the works of troubadours and other wandering minstrels, dance and song were used to communicate the complete variety of human emotions.
The dance of death is another significant ritual of the middle Ages. This ritual consist in a procession performed throughout Europe from the 14th to the 16th century, it was a type of dance procession that was led by a figure representing death.
Development of Ballet - ItalyOut of the many styles developed in the Middle Ages (religious dancing, folk dancing, and performances by troubadours) arise the ballet at the form as now known. A pioneer, who work guided to develop this form of dance was Guglielmo Ebreo, better known as William the Jew, from the Italian town of Pesaro. He wrote about of dance that contains one of the first models of recorded choreography. These dance steps were developed for amateurs to perform at festive balls. And he was a teacher of dance to the aristocracy.
During this time, dancing was on the move. Afterwards to performed as part of feasts and then in ballrooms, dances found a home in the theatres. Performed between the acts of classical comedies, tragedies, or operas, they became known as intermezzos. Progressively the word balleti, which initially referred to dances performed in ballrooms, was used for the dramatic presentations in theatres.
The first ballet was created in 1581; this was called "Circe". Circe was the work's Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx an Italian who became a Frenchman. Unique in its combination of theatrical rudiments that had been found for more than a decade in Italy and France
Afterwards "Circe", in 1588, was published a book vital in the evolved of ballet, "Orchesographie" by Thoinot Arbeau. In this book set forth the dance steps and rhythms that became the ballet postures and movements in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Other great pioneer was Jean-Baptiste Lully, an Italian-born Frenchman; he served Louis XIV at Versailles. Lully was best known as an opera composer, but his influence on dance was deep. In 1661 he formed a department of dance in the Royal Academy of Music, and he played a significant role in making ballets more consistent and integrated. He enhanced the scenic designs, the librettos, on which the dances were founded and the musical scores to which dancers performed.
Growth of Ballet - FranceBy the 18th century the core of dance develop changed from Italy to France. For this time the guide was Pierre Rameau, he wrote "The Dancing Master" is principally a book about to social dances performed not only in France but through Europe. "The Dancing Master" also illustrated stage presentations, for both social and stage dancing shared the equal steps.
In the first half of the 18th century, the opera-ballet flourished. The choreographers and dancers tried to create new style of movement and avoid old-fashioned. During that time, the first great soloists were distinguished because they often added steps and gestures of their own. The dance became very personal and creative.
One of the most beloved dancers was Marie Anne de Dupis known as Camargo, who was brilliant technically and audacious; she is attributed with shortening her skirt a few inches to permit spectators members to better see and appreciate her intricate footwork. Marie Salle was also a great favourite and brought a new freedom to the dance throughout her expressive use of costume and masterful use of gestures. The first among man dancers, known for his elegance and delicacy was Gaetano Vestris.
Modern DanceAt the same time that Michel Fokine was modifying the traditional ballet in St. Petersburg, an American woman, Isadora Duncan, was revolutionizing concept of dance. Rather than modifying the conventional postures and steps, Duncan threw them out. Her new style of dance was spontaneous and extremely personal and let her feel that her spirit had been liberated.
This form of dance was so personal it could not be passed on to the next generation. But Duncan motivated younger people also to express themselves through dance. This was the beginning of form now called modern dance. Among the pioneers from modern dance are Duncan, Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn.
The American Martha Graham was a pupil of t. Denis and Shawn, she created a style of dance, and her innovative technique denied the principal importance of the classical positions of ballet. For her the base of interest and energy was the centre of the body, not its extremities.
Dance in Musical ComedyAmericans also produced the most important forms of theatrical dancing. The first musical stage presentation seen in the United States was a ballad opera called "Flora", produced in Charleston, S.C., in 1735