dance, Western

dance, Western


      history of Western dance from ancient times to the present and including the development of ballet, the waltz, and various types of modern dance.

      The peoples of the West—of Europe and of the countries founded through permanent European settlement elsewhere—have a history of dance characterized by great diversity and rapid change. Whereas most dancers of the East repeated highly refined forms of movement that had remained virtually unchanged for centuries or millennia, Western dancers showed a constant readiness, even eagerness, to accept new vehicles for their dancing. From the earliest records, it appears that Western dance has always embraced an enormous variety of communal or ritual dances, of social dances enjoyed by many different levels of society, and of skilled theatrical dances that followed distinct but often overlapping lines of development.

      The article folk art covers in greater detail the unique nature, techniques, forms, and functions, and the historical developments of each of these kinds of Western dance. In addition, the article dance covers the aesthetics and the varieties of dance, both Western and non-Western.

      The West cannot always be clearly distinguished from the non-West, especially in such countries as Russia or other regions of the former Soviet Union, where some dances are Asian and others European in origin and character. This article focuses on the dance of Western peoples, noting where appropriate the influence of other cultures.

From antiquity through the Renaissance
      Before written records were left, a vast span of time elapsed about which scholars can only speculate. Pictorial records in cave paintings in Spain and France showing dancelike formations have led to the conjecture that religious rites (ritual) and attempts to influence events through sympathetic magic were central motivations of prehistoric dance. Such speculations have been reinforced by observation of dances of primitive peoples in the contemporary world, though the connection between ancient and modern “primitives” is by no means accepted by many scholars. If the dances recorded in early written records represented a continuity from prehistoric dances, there may have been prehistoric work dances, war dances, and erotic couple and group dances as well. One couple dance surviving in the 20th century, the Bavarian-Austrian Schuhplattler, is considered by historians to be of Neolithic origin, from before 3000 BC.

Dance in the ancient world
      In the civilizations of Egypt, Greece and its neighbouring islands, and Rome, written records supplement the many pictorial remains. Written records alone provide information about ancient Jewish dancing. There are still conjectures about the style, pattern, and purpose of ancient dances, but there is far more concrete evidence.

Ancient Egyptian dance (art and architecture, Egyptian)
 Formalized ritual and ceremonial dances in which the dancing priest–king represented the person of a god or the servant and regenerator of his people were practiced in Egypt. These dances, culminating in ceremonies representing the death and rebirth of the god Osiris, became more and more complex, and ultimately they could be executed only by specially trained dancers. From Egypt also come the earliest written documentations of the dance. These records speak of a class of professional dancers, originally imported from the interior of Africa, to satisfy the wealthy and powerful during hours of leisure and to perform at religious and funerary celebrations. These dancers were considered highly valuable possessions, especially the Pygmy dancers who became famous for their artistry. One of the pharaohs prayed to become a “dance dwarf of god” after his death, and King Neferkare (3rd millennium BC) admonished one of his marshals to rush such a “dance dwarf from the Land of Spirits” to his court.

      There is considerable agreement that the belly dance, now performed by dancers from the Middle East, is of African origin. A report of the 4th century BC from Memphis in Egypt described in detail the performance of an apparently rumba-like couple dance with an unquestionably erotic character. The Egyptians also knew acrobatic exhibition dances akin to the present-day adagio dances. They definitely were aware of the sensual allure of the sparsely clad body in graceful movement. A tomb painting from Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qurnah, now in the British Museum, shows dancers dressed only in rings and belts, apparently designed to heighten the appeal of their nudity. These figures probably were intended to entertain the dead as they had been entertained in life.

      Egypt, then, presented a dancing scene that was already varied and sophisticated. In addition to their own danced temple rituals and the Pygmy dancers imported from the headwaters of the Nile, there were Hindu dancing girls from conquered countries to the east. This new dance had none of the long masculine strides or the stiff, angular postures seen in so many Egyptian stone reliefs. Lines of movement undulated softly, nowhere bending sharply or breaking. These Asiatic girls brought a true feminine style to Egyptian dance.

Dance in Classical Greece
      Many Egyptian influences can be found in the Greek dance. Some came by way of Crete (Minoan civilization), others through the Greek philosophers who went to Egypt to study. The philosopher Plato (c. 428–348/47 BC) was among them, and he became an influential dance theoretician. He distinguished dances that enhance the beauty of the body from awkward movements that imitate the convulsions of ugliness. The Apis cult dances of Egypt had their equivalent in the Cretan bull dance of about 1400 BC. It inspired the labyrinthine dances that, according to legends, Theseus brought to Athens on his return with the liberated youths and maidens.

      Another dance form that originated in Crete and flourished in Greece was the pyrrhichē, a weapon dance. Practiced in Sparta as part of military training, it was a basis for the claim of the philosopher Socrates that the best dancer is also the best warrior. Other choral dances that came to Athens from Crete include two dedicated to Apollo and one in which naked boys simulated wrestling matches. Female characteristics were stressed in a stately and devout round dance in honour of the gods, performed by choruses of virgins.

      Numerous vase paintings and sculptural reliefs offer proof of an ecstatic dance connected with the cult of Dionysus. It was celebrated with a “sacred madness” at the time of the autumnal grape harvest. In his drama Bacchae, Euripides (c. 480–406 BC) described the frenzy of Greek women, called bacchantes or maenads. In their dance for generation and regeneration, they frantically stamped the ground and whirled about in rhythmic convulsions. Such dances were manifestations of demoniacal possession characteristic of many primitive dances.

 The Dionysian cult brought about Greek drama (dramatic literature). After the women danced, the men followed in the disguise of lecherous satyrs. Gradually the priest, singing of the life, death, and return of Dionysus while his acolytes represented his words in dance and mime, became an actor. The scope of the dance slowly widened to incorporate subjects and heroes taken from the Homeric legends. A second actor and a chorus were added. In the lyric interludes between plays, dancers re-created the dramatic themes in movements adopted from the earlier ritual and bacchic dances. In the comedies, they danced the very popular kordax, a mask dance of uninhibited lasciviousness (see photograph—>). In the tragedies, the chorus performed the emmeleia, a dignified dance with flute accompaniment.

      These dances and plays were executed by skilled amateurs. At the end of the 5th century BC, however, there came into being a special class of show dancers, acrobats, and jugglers, the female members of which were evidently hetaerae (hetaera), members of a class of courtesans. No doubt influenced by Egyptian examples, they entertained guests at lavish banquets. The historian Xenophon (c. 430–c. 355 BC) in his Symposium tells of the praise Socrates lavished on a female dancer and a dancing boy at one such occasion, finally himself emulating their beautiful movements. Elsewhere, Xenophon describes a dance representing the union of the legendary heroine Ariadne with Dionysus, an early example of narrative dance.

Ancient Roman dance
 There was a striking difference between the Etruscan and the Roman (ancient Rome) peoples in their approach to the dance. Little is known about the Etruscans, who populated the area north of Rome up to Florence and flourished between the 7th and 5th century BC. But it is apparent from their lavish tomb painting that dance played an important part in their enjoyment of life. Women were enthusiastic participants in Etruscan dancing; funerary chain dances were performed by groups of women, and lively, energetic couple dances are portrayed in Etruscan frescoes. They were performed without masks in public places and showed a distinct courting character.

      Roman antagonism to dance seems to reflect a sober rationalism and realism. Nonetheless, Rome did not entirely evade the temptations of dance. Before about 200 BC, dances were evidently in the form of choral processions only. There were agricultural processions headed by priests, and weapon dances of the Salii, a congregation of the priests of Mars who walked around in a circle while rhythmically beating their shields. Dancing was an important part of Roman festivals—the celebrations of Lupercalia and Saturnalia featured wild group dances that were precursors of the later European carnival.

      Later, Greek and Etruscan influences began to spread, though people who danced were considered suspicious, effeminate, and even dangerous by the Roman nobility. One public official did not believe his eyes when he watched dozens of the daughters and sons of well-respected Roman patricians and citizens enjoying themselves in a dancing school. About 150 BC all dancing schools were ordered closed, but the trend could not be stopped. And though dance may have been alien to the Roman's inner nature, dancers and dancing teachers were increasingly brought from abroad in the following years. The statesman and scholar Cicero (Cicero, Marcus Tullius) (106–43 BC) summed up the general opinion of the Romans when he stated that no man danced unless he was insane.

      A form of dance that enjoyed great popularity with the Romans under the emperor Augustus (63 BC–AD 14) was the wordless, spectacular pantomime that rendered dramatic stories by means of stylized gestures. The performers, known as pantomimi, were at first considered more or less as interpreters of a foreign language, since they came from Greece. They refined their art until the two dancer-mimes Bathyllus and Pylades became the star performers of Augustan Rome. The stylized performance of the dancer, who wore a mask appropriate to the theme of his dance, was accompanied by musicians playing flutes, horns, and percussion instruments and a chorus that sang about the action between dance episodes.

Jewish dance (Judaism)
      When dance is mentioned in the Old Testament it is distinguished by its joyousness. Words such as leaping and whirling describe the energy and vitality of ancient Hebrew dances. As in other early societies, dancing is most often connected with ritualistic activity. Ring dances may have been performed in the worship of the golden calf; the prohibition against making graven images that resulted from this worship explains the lack of evidence of Jewish dances in the visual arts.

      Hebrew dances were performed by both men and women, though usually the sexes were separated. Victory dances were performed by groups of women; men participated in ecstatic whirling dances designed to evoke prophecy. Festival dances were performed by both groups—one of the most important was the water-drawing festival on the first night of Sukkoth, which was celebrated by a torchlit procession dance that lasted through the night.

      Weddings provided another important occasion for ritual dancing. Dancing with the bride was considered an act of devotion, and the officiating rabbi always complied with pleasure. During the Diaspora of the early Christian Era many of the ritual dances disappeared, but the bridal dance continued as a tradition. In the Middle Ages wedding dances were performed in which men danced with the bridegroom and women with the bride because of the segregation of the sexes. Later, men could dance with the bride either by wrapping their hands in a cloth or by holding a cloth between them to signify their separation.

Christianity and the Middle Ages
      Dancing was traditional also among the tribes of barbarians to the north, as attested by the writings of the Christian missionaries. Wherever they went, they found the same fertility-rite dances—if in different guise, the same charm dances to induce good and ward off evil, the same warrior and weapon dances to bolster fighting morale, and the same uncontrolled expressions of the joy of life, which the missionaries attributed to the devil.

      Erotic dancing was not the exclusive property of heathen societies. In Byzantium, the Christian emperor Justinian I (483–565) married the notorious Theodora, a dancer who had appeared in the nude in theatrical performances. About 500, St. Caesarius of Arles reported a sacrificial banquet ending in some demoniacal dancing rites performed to the accompaniment of lewd songs. The Anglo-Saxons had little girls performing dances at Easter in which a phallus was carried in front of them.

Ecclesiastical attitudes and practices
      The attitude of the Christian Church toward dance was not unanimous. On the one side there was the ascetic rejection of all manifestations of lust and ecstasy, and dance was seen as one of the strongest persuasions to sexual permissiveness. On the other side, some early Church Fathers tried to find functions for pagan dances in Christian worship. St. Basil of Caesarea (Basil the Great, Saint) in 350 called dancing the most noble activity of the angels, a theory later endorsed by the Italian poet Dante. St. Augustine (Augustine, Saint) (354–430) was strictly against dancing, but, despite his great influence in the medieval church, dancing in churches continued for centuries.

       Charlemagne, the Holy Roman emperor at the beginning of the 9th century, officially prohibited all kinds of dancing, but the ban was not observed. The Teutonic peoples (Germanic peoples) were accustomed to dancing as part of their religious rites. On Christian feast days, which coincided with their ancient rites of expelling the winter, of celebrating the arrival of spring, and of rejoicing that the days grew longer again, they revived their old ritual dances, though these were camouflaged with new names and executed to different purpose. In this manner previously sacred dances became more and more secularized. After such secularization, two lines of development were open: the social dance or the assimilation of dance into theatrical spectacle by the joculators, travelling comedians who combined the arts of dancer, juggler, acrobat, singer, actor, mime, and musician in one person.

Dance ecstasies (ecstasy)
      There were two kinds of dance peculiar to the Middle Ages, the dance of death (death, dance of), or danse macabre, and the dancing mania known as St. Vitus' dance. Both originally were ecstatic mass dances, dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. People congregated at churchyards to sing and dance while the representatives of the church tried in vain to stop them. In the 14th century another form of the dance of death emerged in Germany, (Germany) the Totentanz, a danced drama with the character of Death seizing people one after the other without distinctions of class or privilege. The German painter Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98–1543) made a famous series of engravings of this dance.

      The St. Vitus' dance became a real public menace, seizing hundreds of people, spreading from city to city, mainly in the Low Countries, in Germany, and in Italy during the 14th and 15th centuries. It was a kind of mass hysteria, a wild leaping dance in which the people screamed and foamed with fury, with the appearance of persons possessed. In these convulsive, frantic, and jerky dances, religious, medical, and social influences probably interacted in response to such things as the epilepsy-like seizures of persons suffering from the Black Death. Italy was afflicted with tarantism, an epidemic presumably caused by the bite of venomous spiders. Its effects had to be counteracted by distributing the poison over the whole body and “sweating it out,” which was accomplished by dancing to a special kind of music, the tarantella.

Dance and social class
 In western Europe by the 12th century, society had developed into three classes, the nobility, the peasantry, and the clergy. This separation contributed to the development of the social dance. The knights created their own worldly and spiritual ideals, exemplified in tournaments and courtly entertainments that were praised in song and poetry by the troubadours and minnesingers. The couple dances of the knights expressed the polished and aristocratic notions of courtly love. The round dances of the peasants were executed by circles or lines of people, often singing and holding each other by their hands. The rustic choral round had strong pantomimic leanings and unpolished expressions of joy and passion. And while the choral rounds almost always were executed to the singing of the participants, the court dances of the knights generally were accompanied by instrumental playing, especially of fiddles, and when there was singing, it emerged from the spectators rather than the performers.

      From the late Middle Ages, graphic artists frequently recorded what dancing looked like in all its different manifestations. How dancing adapted to the idealism of knightly love is shown in manuscript illuminations and tapestries. Paintings of the Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30–69) leave no doubt that the peasants enjoyed celebrating with dances of uninhibited stamping and cavorting.

The Renaissance world and the art dance
       France had set the fashion in court dance during the late Middle Ages; with the Renaissance, however, Italy became the centre of the new developments in dance. The Renaissance brought greater mixing of social classes, new fortunes and personal wealth, and greater indulgence in worldly pleasures and in the appreciation of the human body. The period emerged as one of the most dance-conscious ages in history.

Court dances and spectacles
      Celebrations and festivities proliferated. The itinerant jugglers (juggler) of the Middle Ages became highly respected and much sought after as dancing masters. They quickly assumed the function of instructing the nobility not only in the steps but also on posture, bearing, and etiquette. They became responsible for the planning and realization of the spectacular festivities. The social prestige of this newly developing profession grew constantly.

      Some of these dancing masters were highly learned men, and their treatises leave no doubt about their scholarly ambitions. Many of them were Jewish, descended from the Klesmorim, a group of medieval Jewish entertainers. The first dancing master known by name was Domenico da Piacenza, who in 1416 published the first European dance manual, De arte saltandi et choreas ducendi (“On the Art of Dancing and Directing Choruses”). His disciple, Antonio Cornazano, a nobleman by birth, became an immensely respected minister, educator of princes, court poet, and dancing master to the Sforza family of Milan, where about 1460 he published his Libro dell'arte del danzare (“Book of the Art of the Dance”). Such books record little about the actual steps and the melodies to which they were performed, but they are eloquent in the description of the balli—works that were invented by the dancing masters themselves. Adapting steps from the various social dances, they used them in a kind of dance pantomime.

      In France, numerous forms developed from the branle, a round dance of peasant origin that became fashionable in the courts. One of the most frequently mentioned of all the dances of the 15th century was the morisca, or moresque, a romanticized version of dances from Moorish Spain. These were first mentioned in 1446 by a Bohemian traveller who visited Burgos, Spain. Later, in Portugal, he encountered similar forms. Sometimes religious motifs of the legendary fight between Charlemagne and the Turkic invader Timur entered the morisca, but usually it was performed as a double-file choral dance. It had nothing to do, as was long believed, with the English masked Morris dance, now considered to be a survival from a primitive religious cult.

      From such choral dances the ballet emerged. At the court entertainments throughout Savoy and northern Italy, sumptuous spectacles with mythological, symbolical, or allegorical content became increasingly popular. At these early stages, however, pantomime and dance are not easily distinguished. Famous examples of these spectacles are the presentation of the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece at the marriage of Philip the Good of Burgundy in 1430, and the dinner ballet on the same, though widely enlarged, subject staged for the wedding of the Duke of Milan in 1489.

      Tudor England (United Kingdom) of the early 16th century had similar pageants, with the participants disguising “after the manner of Italie.” Like the Italian balli, the English masque offered an almost unlimited choice of performing variations, from a simple dance in masks to the most elaborate spectacle interspersed with songs, speeches, and pantomimes. As for the actual dances, Robert Copland's Maner of Dauncynge of Bace Daunces after the Use of Fraunce, published in 1521 as an appendix to a French grammar, leaves no doubt that the English upper class of that period was thoroughly familiar with continental dance. But whereas the nobility preferred dances of slow, measured, and dignified stature, stylishly performed and modelled upon the standards of the French court, the peasants continued their boisterous dancing, in England as elsewhere, very much as they had for centuries.

      In England in the late 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I gave dancing a further boost. She was a skilled practitioner of the galliard and the volta, with its tight embraces by high-leaping couples. She enjoyed watching the English country dances—the chain, ring, and round dances of ancient origin and constantly new invention. These dances apparently provided a continuous infusion of new vitality into court dances. The nobles vied with one another in the execution of the jig, a sprightly and swift dance of “the folk” accompanied by songs. Dancing schools flourished everywhere in London, giving public displays and contributing considerably to the reputation of “the dancing English.” Another extremely important contribution to dance was provided by Spain, which in the late 16th and early 17th centuries enjoyed a cultural renaissance. It was the “golden age” of Cervantes in literature, of Lope de Vega and Pedro Calderón de la Barca in the theatre, of El Greco and Diego Velásquez in painting. With the growth of Spain's empire in the Americas, dances of Afro-American origin found their way back to Europe. The sarabande and the chaconne were brought from Central America before 1600. Both were considered outspokenly obscene in their suggestions of sexual encounters. They became extremely popular in the harbours of Andalusia, where they were polished and their pantomimic literalness somewhat moderated. From there they crossed the Pyrenees and were integrated into the canon of the French court dance.

      Other dances from abroad played major roles in the shaping of Spain's national dances. The canarie of African origin certainly sired the Aragonese jota, while the sarabande brought forth the seguidilla. The Afro-Cuban chica lived on in the fandango, and the flamenco dances of the Andalusian Gypsies retained their Moorish heritage into the 20th century. It can be presumed that this exchange of dances was not a one-way traffic, that the European conquerors and colonists similarly influenced the dancing habits of the people in other lands.

The birth of ballet
      Meanwhile, dance became the subject of serious studies in France. A group of writers calling themselves La Pléiade aimed for a revival of the theatre of the ancient Greeks with its music, song, and dance. In Catherine de Médicis (1519–89), the Florentine wife of Henry II, the Italian dancing masters found an influential sponsor in Paris. She called to Paris the Italian musician and dancing master Baltazarini di Belgioioso, who changed his name to Balthazar de Beaujoyeulx (early 16th century to 1587). There had been previous fetes in both France and Italy that offered masquerades, pantomimes, and dances with allegorical and symbolical subjects, but none of them compared to the splendours of the Ballet comique de la reine that Beaujoyeulx staged in 1581 for Catherine.

      This “ballet” told the story of the legendary sorceress Circe and her evil deeds. Spoken texts alternated with dances amid magnificently decorative settings. The performers, recruited from the nobility, moved on the floor more like animated costumes than individual dancers. They came together in strikingly designed groups, and they set up geometrical floor patterns that had highly symbolic meanings. (To audiences of the period, for example, three concentric circles represented Perfect Truth, and two equilateral triangles within a circle stood for Supreme Power.) The ballet, which ended in an act of homage to the royal majesties present, had a distinct political moral. Circe had to render her might to the absolutist power of the king of France as the supreme symbol of a peaceful and harmonious world.

      The Ballet comique launched the species known as ballet de cour, in which the monarchs themselves participated. The idealized dances represented the supreme order that France itself, suffering from internal wars, lacked so badly. The steps were those of the social dances of the times, but scholars became aware of how these native materials might be used to propagate the Greek revival. They thoroughly analyzed and systematized the dances, and in 1588 the priest Jehan Tabourot, writing under the pen name Thoinot Arbeau, published his Orchésographie, which he subtitled “a treatise in dialogue form by which everyone can easily learn and practice the honest exercise of the dance.” This was the first book containing reliable descriptions of how, and to what kind of music, the basse danse, pavane, galliard, volta, courante, allemande, gavotte, canarie, bouffon, moresque, and 23 different variations of the branle were performed.

During the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries
      Under kings Louis XIV and Louis XV, France led western Europe into the age of the Rococo in the arts. The Rococo began as a movement toward simplicity and naturalness, a reaction against the stilted mannerisms and preciousness to which the earlier Baroque art was considered to have degenerated. It was a great age of and for dancing, with the minuet the symbol of its emphasis on civilized movement. This formal dance, the perfect execution of which was almost a science in itself, reflected the Rococo idea of naturalness. The statement that “the dance has now come to the highest point of its perfection” by the composer Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764) suggested how conscious the French were of the great strides dance had made. That this was particularly the case in France was confirmed by the English poet and essayist Soame Jenyns (1704–87) in his lines “None will sure presume to rival France, / Whether she forms or executes the dance.” None, however, excelled the estimation of his profession by the dancing master in Molière's (Molière) Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (1670):

There is nothing so necessary to human beings as the dance . . . Without the dance, a man would not be able to do anything. . . . All the misfortunes of man, all the baleful reverses with which histories are filled, the blunders of politicians and the failures of great leaders, all of this is the result of not knowing how to dance.

The maturing of ballet
      Dance was finally deemed ready for an academy of its own. In 1661, 13 dancing masters who had been members of a professional guild of medieval origin, together with some musicians, composers, and the makers of instruments, were granted a charter by Louis XIV for the Académie Royale de Danse (Paris Opéra Ballet).

Technical codifications and dance scholarship
      The academicians were charged with setting up objective standards for perfecting of their arts, with unifying the rules of dance training, and with issuing licenses to dancing instructors. Though the nobility continued for some time to participate in the ballets de cour, and Louis himself danced in them until 1669, the dance became more and more the province of highly trained specialists.

      After 1700 ballet and social dance took separate paths. But while the ballet continued to absorb new ideas from the folk and social dance, its practitioners and theoreticians looked down on those more common forms. A profusion of books on dance began to appear—treatises, instructions, and analyses as well as the first attempts to record dances by means of written notation. The first history of dance was Claude-François Menestrier's Des ballets anciens et modernes (“On Dances Ancient and Modern”; 1682). The second major work of European dance literature, after Arbeau's Orchésographie, was Raoul Feuillet's (Feuillet, Raoul-Auger) Chorégraphie, ou l'art de décrire la danse (“Choreography, or the Art of Describing the Dance”; 1700). It became the standard grammar for the dances practiced at the turn of the century, describing them in minute detail and notating them by a system devised by Feuillet. This indicated the position of the feet and directions, combinations, and floor patterns of the steps and leaps. The notations system was unable, however, to register the movements of the upper parts of the body. Feuillet provided as well a complete definition of the principles of the dance first described by the Académie in the 1660s. These included the en dehors (i.e., the turnout of the body and its limbs), the five classical positions of the feet, the port de bras (i.e., the positions and movements of the arms), and the leaps to the grande élévation, the aerial movements of the dance.

      In 1706 Feuillet's influential book was translated into English by John Weaver (Weaver, John) (1673–1760), a dancer, choreographer, and teacher who worked mainly at the Drury Lane Theatre, London. In 1717 he produced one of the first serious ballets without words, The Loves of Mars and Venus. Weaver was the first dance teacher to insist that dance instructors should have a thorough knowledge of human anatomy. In 1721 he published his Anatomical and Mechanical Lectures upon Dancing, which became a standard work of international importance. Germany also was represented in the field of dance scholarship, most notably by Leipzig Gottfried Tauber in Der rechtschaffene Tanzlehrer (“The Correctly Working Dance Teacher”; 1717). These books strongly emphasized the contributions of dance to general education and manners. In this period dance was considered the basis of all education, and well-to-do parents went to great pains to have their children properly instructed.

Varieties of the ballet
      As the technical demands of performance became greater and the amateurs gave way to the professionals, performance of the ballet moved from the dance floor onto the stage. There it gradually shed its declamations and its songs and concentrated on telling a story through the gestures of dance and mime alone. But this purifying process took time. For decades different forms of mixed-media spectacles were seen, from the comédies-ballets of Molière (1622–73) and the composer Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632–87) to the opéras-ballets of André Campra (1660–1744) and Rameau, which were successions of songs and dances on a common theme. The first ballet to be performed without the diversions of speech or song was Le Triomphe de l'amour (The Triumph of Love; 1681), choreographed by Charles-Louis Beauchamp (1636–c. 1719) to Lully's music. Originally a ballet de cour, it was revived for the stage with a professional cast. Its star, Mlle Lafontaine, became ballet's (ballet d'action) first première danseuse exactly 100 years after the Ballet comique had been produced.

      An even more dramatic form known as ballet d'action came into being in 1708, when two professional dancers presented an entire scene from the tragedy Horace by Pierre Corneille (1606–84) in dance and mime. Weaver's silent ballets, whose expressive dance much impressed English audiences, also encouraged Marie Sallé (Sallé, Marie), a highly ambitious dramatic dancer. Despairing of the opéras-ballets of Paris, she went to London, where she performed in pantomimes and produced a miniature dance-drama of her own, Pygmalion (1734). In it she appeared in a flimsy muslin dress and loose, flowing hair rather than the heavy costumes and elaborate wigs usually worn by ballerinas. Thus lightened, the dancer was able to move with much greater freedom.

Early virtuosos of the dance
      The era of the great dancer was at hand. Marie Sallé (1707–56) was the greatest dancer-mime and an important innovator of her day. Her popularity was rivalled by the Brussels-born Marie Camargo (Camargo, Marie) (1710–70), who excelled Sallé in lightness and sparkle. She used the entrechat, a series of rapid crossings of the legs that previously had been used only by male dancers. To show off properly her entrechats and other lithe footwork, she shortened her skirt by several inches, thereby contributing to costume reform. Both ballerinas were depicted by Nicolas Lancret (1690–1743), a painter known for his festive scenes, and both were praised by the writer and philosopher Voltaire (1694–1778), who carefully compared their respective virtues. Both, however, were surpassed by the Italian dancer Barberina Campanini (1721–99), whose fame is less adequately recorded in dance history. By 1739, she had taken Paris by storm, demonstrating jumps and turns executed with a speed and brilliance hitherto unknown. She offered ample proof that the Italian school of dance teaching had by no means died out with the earlier exodus of so many of its best practitioners to the French courts. Despite the great public acclaim that these ballerinas attracted, they were overshadowed by Louis Dupré (1697–1744), known as “The Great Dupré” and “the god of the dance.” In grace, majesty, and allure, he was unsurpassed, giving the male dancer a prominence he held for a century. Dupré was also the first of a direct line of great dance teachers that was unbroken in the late 20th century.

The reign of the minuet
      In the realm of the social dance, the years between 1650 and 1750 were called “the age of the minuet” by the dance and music historian Curt Sachs.

The French dance suite
      At the great balls of the French court at Versailles, the minuet was the high point of the festivities, which culminated in a suite of dances. The opening branle, led by the king and his escort, was a measured circling around, one couple after another. Next came the courante, which had been toned down from its earlier rather capricious figurations. Over the years it assumed a continuously greater dignity until it was danced with such gravity and sobriety that it was termed the “doctor dance.” It went quickly out of fashion, however, after 1700. Following the courante in the succession was the gavotte, which opened in the form of a round dance. A couple separated to each perform a short solo, then returned to the original circle. Sometimes the suite was extended through an allemande (French: “German”), an old dance form that was introduced into France from the heavily German-speaking province of Alsace in the 1680s. This dance, with its turning couples, the lady on the arm of the gentleman, was a relative of the German Ländler and a precursor of the waltz.

Form of the minuet
      But the unrivalled king of the social dances was the minuet, named from the pas menu (“small step”), a term used at least as early as the 15th century. The earliest surviving specimen was composed by Lully in 1663. Mozart composed a series of 12 minuets as late as 1789. It originated as a folk dance in Poitou, but as a court dance it took its form from the courante. Though today it looks mannered, even artificial, in its time it was looked upon as the most beautiful and harmonious of dances, and to execute it perfectly required prolonged and careful study:

The minuet was performed in open couples; spectators and partners were saluted with ceremonial bows. With dainty little steps and glides, to the right and to the left, forward and backward, in quarter turns, approaching and retreating hand in hand, searching and evading, now side by side, now facing, now gliding past one another, the ancient dance play of courtship appears here in a last and almost unrecognizable stylization and refinement. (Curt Sachs, World History of the Dance, trans. Bessie Schönberg, W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1937.)

      In spite of the great popularity of the minuet before the French Revolution, it was the object of much barbed commentary in the late 18th century. Voltaire compared the metaphysical philosophers of his time with the dancers of the minuet, who, in their elegant attire, bow and mince daintily across the room showing off their charms, move without progressing a single step, and end up at the very spot from which they began.

English social dance
      England thoroughly democratized the dance. Though the English Puritanism of the 17th century stigmatized dance as one of man's most sinful occupations, even Oliver Cromwell, lord protector of England under the Puritan rule in the 1650s, could not prevent the appearance of The English Dancing Master (issued 1650; dated 1651), by the bookseller and publisher John Playford (1623–c. 1686). This was a collection of English traditional dances and tunes. It had 18 editions in 80 years, each one adding to the repertoire. Its 900 choral dances of rustic origin, which formerly had been danced in the open air but were now usually performed indoors, included an enormous variety of forms and patterns. It was written in straightforward, matter-of-fact language, with no discrimination of dances by social class. Its instructions could be understood and its dances performed by anyone. People could enjoy dancing as a playful, sportive activity rather than as an exercise of courtly etiquette.

      These “country dances” (country dance) could as well be city dances, as is suggested by such names as “Mayden Lane” and “Hide Park” from London locales. Others were named for persons—“Parson's Farewell” and “My Lady Foster's Delight”—and that there were foreign influences can be surmised from “The Spanish Jeepsie” and “A la Mode de France.” At the same time, native jigs and hornpipes continued to flourish. The English were particularly fond of the Morris dance. This dance may have received its name from the blackened faces of some of its participants, suggestive of the African Moors, but its origins were in the ancient ritual dances. It was a vigorous male dance, in the form of a dance procession through town streets. Its participants, in the disguises of such popular characters as the fool or the Queen of May, wore jingling bells around their ankles and sometimes galloped about on hobby horses. Other dancers wore antlers, tails, and similar animal masking.

      About 1700 the English country dances began to appear on the Continent, where they were somewhat formalized and sometimes substantially altered. In France they were named contredanses (contredanse). The longways, dances with double lines of dancers facing one another, became contredanses anglaises; the rounds became the contredanses françaises, which were also known as cotillions and quadrilles. These figure dances, which quickly spread to Spain, Germany, Poland, and other countries, were the dances of the rising middle class. By no means revolutionary in their content, they were nonetheless a distinct declaration of rationality and common sense in dance, a counterbalance to the artificialities and mannerisms of the aristocratic court dances. The orthodox dance teachers might bemoan the decline from the standards that were epitomized in the minuet, but the townspeople and peasants, unconcerned with such niceties, continued in their uncomplicated knowledge that dancing could be fun.

Dance in colonial America (United States)
      The English colonists in America had mixed opinions about dance. There was the complete disapproval of those who saw only its inherent licentiousness, but from others came at least a tacit toleration of the obviously irrepressible urge to dance. The South, more heavily populated by colonists with aristocratic backgrounds, was generally more inclined to dance than the North, where religious fervour had motivated much of the migration from England. But what was allowed and even encouraged in Connecticut was strictly forbidden in Massachusetts. The general consensus was apparently that dancing in itself was not bad, but that no punishment could be severe enough for what was regarded as lascivious dancing. The Quakers, who had settled mainly in Pennsylvania, were very much against dancing, and in 1706 they complained bitterly about a dancing and fencing school being tolerated in Philadelphia. They feared that the school's teachings would tend to corrupt their children.

External and internal influences
      Nonetheless, Playford's The English Dancing Master was by no means unknown in America. There were also dancing masters and dancing mistresses to instruct in and lead the dances that had been brought from the Old World. There were society balls in the cities along the coast, and on the inland frontiers the settlers of the widely scattered farmsteads often came together for exuberant feasting and social dancing. Here dancing was considered a socializing virtue expressed in this anonymous observation:

I really know among us of no custom which is so useful and tends so much to establish the union and the little society which subsists among us. Poor as we are, if we have not the gorgeous balls, the harmonious concerts, the shrill horn of Europe, yet we delight our hearts as well with the simple negro fiddle.

      What the colonists saw of American Indian dancing they found very strange and primitive, and there was virtually no exchange of dancing customs between the groups. The situation differed, however, with regard to the black slaves, who in the 17th century had brought their own songs and dances from their native lands in Africa.

      During religious holidays in New Amsterdam, blacks danced in the streets to the musical accompaniment of three-stringed fiddles and drums constructed from eel pots and covered with sheep-skins. Dutch families joined in the festivities. When New Amsterdam became New York, however, the English discouraged dancing between whites and blacks; blacks went on to develop the characteristic dance style that would so deeply affect social dancing in the 19th and 20th centuries.

      Early in the 18th century, rather rough theatrical entertainments, acts of acrobatic skill or pantomimes in which dances played an increasing role, began to spread through the American colonies. These often amateurish showings got a mighty boost when the first professional companies came from Europe, about the middle of the century, to perform plays and harlequinades with incidental dances.

The rise of the waltz
      The age of the minuet was followed by that of the waltz. As the French Revolution approached, the minuet, a form that exuded the essence of earlier decades, died a natural death. The English country dances, expressing the self-satisfaction of the bourgeoisie, fared little better.

The Romantic movement (Romanticism) in dance
      The young people, whose preferences led the way in creating new forms, had lived through the revolutionary events of the 1780s and '90s. They now looked to dance as a way to unleash deeper emotion, to satisfy the needs of body and soul, and to mobilize more vital and dynamic expression than that permitted by the sober and decorous rules of the dancing masters. The overflow of feeling and the striving for horizons broader than those understood by the traditional canons of French Rationalism were among the factors that generated the Romantic movement in the arts of Europe. This new direction was clearly expressed in the waltz, a dance filled with the Dionysian spirit.

      Like much of the spirit of the Romantic movement, the waltz was of German origin. It paralleled the Sturm und Drang movement in German literature, which featured the new forms of prose and poetry by Johann von Goethe (Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von) and Friedrich Schiller. One of the most glowing advocates of the waltz was Goethe, who time and again praised it, nowhere more than in his novel Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers (1774; The Sorrows of Werter, 1779): “Never have I moved so lightly. I was no longer a human being. To hold the most adorable creature in one's arms and fly around with her like the wind, so that everything around us fades away.” Even the aristocrats who formed the Congress of Vienna in 1815, which sought to restore law and order to Europe following the upheavals brought on by Napoleon, delighted in performing this earliest of all nonaristocratic ballroom dances.

Spread of the waltz
      The waltz started as a turning dance of couples. It was especially popular in south Germany and Austria, where it was known under such different names as Dreher, Ländler, and Deutscher. More than any other dance it appeared to represent some of the abstract values of the new era, the ideals of freedom, character, passion, and expressiveness. This may explain somewhat its eruption into the limelight of international popularity. This popularity was scaled in 1787 when it was brought to operatic stage. Vienna became the city of the waltz, for there it surpassed everything in wild fury. It swept over national frontiers, and in 1804 the French were reported to be passionately in love with this light, gliding dance. “A waltz, another waltz” was the common cry from the ballroom floor, for the French could not get enough of the dance.

      Some guardians of the public morality disapproved of the “mad whirling” of the waltz and it did not arrive in England until 1812. At the Prussian court in Berlin it was forbidden until 1818, though Queen Luise had danced it while still a princess in 1794. The guardians could do no more than delay its total victory, and it conquered the world without sanction of courts, of dancing masters, or of other powers. After many centuries of leadership, France no longer set the fashions. In 1819 Carl Maria von Weber's Invitation to the Dance represented the declaration of love of classical music to the waltz. Shortly thereafter began the age of the Viennese waltz kings, most notably expressed by the Strauss family.

Offspring and rivals
      The waltz sired a great variety of offspring throughout Europe. Germany developed such variations of the waltz as the schottisch, with turns like those of the waltz. France had its airy balance valse, and the Americans later on had their Boston waltz, a slower, gliding variant. About 1840 a serious rival to the waltz emerged in the polka, a Bohemian dance that took its name from the Czech word půlka, “half step.” It was full of fiery vigour. Another Bohemian folk dance finding favour in the dance halls was the rejdovák or redowa, while Poland's mazurka and krakowiak enjoyed great popularity. No ball could be concluded without a galop, in which couples galloped through the hall with accelerated polka steps, an exhausting exercise that required considerable reserves of stamina.

Foundations of modern ballet
      The ideals of naturalness, character, soul, passion, and expressiveness came to govern the ballet.

Noverre and his contemporaries
      The French dancer-choreographer-teacher Jean-Georges Noverre (Noverre, Jean-Georges) (1727–1810) was the first major reformer of ballet. He defined his artistic positions in Lettres sur la danse et sur les ballets (Letters on Dancing and Ballets), published in 1760 and continuously reprinted ever since. He worked in Paris, London, Stuttgart, and Vienna, and his influence spread as far as St. Petersburg. He preached the dignity of the ballet and tried to purge it of its excessive artificialities and conventions. He choreographed subjects of mythology and history in highly dramatic narrative forms. He collaborated with some of the major composers of the period, including Mozart, on his ballets.

      Noverre was not alone, and the others around him were full of the same zest to give a new meaning to ballet. In Vienna he had a feud with the Italian choreographer Gasparo Angiolini (Angiolini, Gasparo) (1731–1803) over Noverre's reforms of the ballet d'action. Angiolini claimed these for his teacher, the Austrian choreographer Franz Hilverding (1710–68). In Bordeaux, Noverre's pupil Jean Dauberval premiered in 1789 La Fille mal gardée (The Ill-Guarded Maiden), usually called Vain Precautions in English, which became the first durable ballet comedy. It introduced the demi-caractère dance, which featured what were considered to be “true-to-life” characters. In London, still another pupil, Charles Didelot (Didelot, Charles), created in 1796 Flore et Zéphyre. This was the first attempt to bestow on the individual dances within the ballet a certain period and local coloration, and to break the uniformity of step and movement of the corps de ballet by assigning individual tasks to its various members. Later, Didelot thoroughly reformed the ballet school in St. Petersburg, which had existed since 1738. There he also created the first ballets of the Russian (Russia) national repertory. Among these were the first ballets to be based on the works of the Russian writer Alexandr Pushkin (1799–1837), whose stories continued to be used as ballet libretti for many decades.

      In Milan, Salvatore Viganò, who had worked under Dauberval and Didelot and who had choreographed in 1801 the first performance of Beethoven's Creatures of Prometheus, was praised by the French writer Stendhal for his thrilling ballets based, among other subjects, on Shakespeare's Othello and Coriolanus. He was followed by Carlo Blasis (Blasis, Carlo), who was more noted as a teacher and theoretician. His Traité élémentaire, théorique, et pratique de l'art de la danse (1820; Elementary Treatise upon the Theory and Practice of the Art of Dancing) became the standard work of ballet teaching for the 19th century. In 1837 he founded the Imperial Ballet Academy, through which Milan became, with Paris and St. Petersburg, a third ballet centre of world renown.

The Romantic ballet
      During the 1830s and '40s the Romantic movement flooded ballet stages with nature spirits, fairies, and sylphids. The cult of the ballerina replaced that of the male dancer, whose last and greatest representative had been the Italian-born French dancer Gaétan Vestris (1729–1808). The techniques of female dancing were greatly improved. Skirts were shortened further, and blocked shoes permitted toe dancing. Choreographers strove for a more expressive vocabulary and highlighted the individual qualities of their dancers.

      La Sylphide (1836) stated a main subject of the Romantic ballet, the fight between the real world and the spiritual world. This theme was enhanced and expanded in Giselle (1841) and Ondine (1843). Paris and London were the taste setters, and it was London that in 1845 witnessed the Pas de quatre, for which the French choreographer Jules Perrot brought together, for four performances, four of the greatest ballerinas of the day, the Italians (Italy) Marie Taglioni (1804–84), Carlotta Grisi (1819–99), and Fanny Cerrito (1817–1909), and Lucile Grahn (1819–1907). After this the decline of Romantic ballet was rapid, at least in these cities. It continued to flourish into the early 1860s, however, in Copenhagen under the choreographer Auguste Bournonville, whose repertoire was kept alive by the Royal Danish Ballet into the second half of the 20th century. Russia, under the French-born Marius Petipa (1819–1910) and his Russian aide Lev Ivanov (1834–1901), built a world-famous ballet culture of its own. Linked at first with Paris, it gradually developed its own balletic idiom from native as well as imported sources. The high point of the classical ballet under the tsars was reached with the St. Petersburg productions of The Sleeping Beauty (1890), The Nutcracker (1892), and Swan Lake (1895), all with music composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and Raymonda (1898), composed by Aleksandr Glazunov (1865–1936). While the ballet prospered in St. Petersburg and Moscow, it waned in Paris. Its ballerinas even appeared in male roles, as in Coppélia (1870). In Milan the extravaganzas of Luigi Manzotti (1838–1905) offered anything but dancing while glorifying the progress of mankind through material discoveries and inventions. The 19th century also saw an unprecedented increase in travel and in cross-cultural influences. Many seemingly exotic dance styles arrived on the Western scene. Troupes from as far as India and Japan appeared at expositions in Paris and London, starting a lively interest in folk and ethnic dancing. Ballerinas of the Romantic ballet travelled from one European city to another, from Milan to London to Moscow. The Austrian dancer Fanny Elssler toured the Americas in the early 1840s for two years, visiting Havana twice. The great choreographers, too, went from city to city. The language of dance became a medium of international communication without regard for difference in geography or spoken language.

Theatre and ballroom dance
      Other dance entertainments of a lighter kind gained immense popularity during the 19th century. In Paris the all-female cancan became the rage. Its electrifying high kicks were shockingly exhibitionistic and titillating. After 1844 it became a feature of the music halls, of revues, and of operetta. It was raised to musical prominence by operetta composer Jacques Offenbach (1819–80) and vividly depicted by the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901). London enjoyed the Alhambra and Empire ballets, which were mostly classical ballets with spectacular productions. But it was America that provided the widest variety. There were patriotic spectacles, popular after the Revolutionary War, such as The Patriot, or Liberty Asserted, in which dance figured prominently.

      More important and of longer range results were the minstrel shows, extravaganzas, burlesques (burlesque show), and vaudevilles (vaudeville). These represented a confluence of a wide assortment of dance and theatrical influences, especially from black culture. White men affected black faces and black dances, and black men affected the faces and dances of whites. Dances were tap and soft-shoe, the buck-and-wing, and similar routines. Theatrical productions offered all kinds of dance, from European-imported ballets through entirely native exhibitions of female beauty verging on the striptease. American dancers began to establish reputations both in America and Europe. The ballerina Augusta Maywood (1825–76?) was the first American dancer to perform at the Paris Opéra.

      During the 19th century there was also an enormous increase in the number of public ballrooms (ballroom dance) and other dancing establishments in the fast-growing cities of the West. Here were first encountered American imports such as the barn dance, then called the military schottische; the Washington Post, a very rapid two-step in march formation; and the cakewalk, which contorted the body to degrees previously unknown. For the first time Europe found in the New World a new infusion of blood for its dancing veins. The tempo of the dances quickened, reflecting perhaps the quickening pace of life and the great social changes of the century.

The 20th century
      Two trends were evident during the first years of the 20th century, before World War I. As if aware of some impending catastrophe, the wealthy society of Europe and the Americas indulged itself to the full in quicker waltzes and faster galops. At the same time, it tried to revive the minuet, gavotte, and pavane, producing only pale and lifeless evocations. There had hardly ever been such a frantic search for new forms, such radical questioning of values previously taken for granted, such a craze among the youth of all nations for individual expression and a more dynamic way of life. All the arts were deeply influenced by the rapid accumulation of discoveries in the physical and social sciences and an increasing awareness of social problems.

      Overall, it was an incredibly lively time for the dance, which never before had generated so many new ideas or attracted so many people. The ballet was completely rejuvenated under the leadership of Russian impresario Sergey Diaghilev (Diaghilev, Sergey Pavlovich) (1872–1929). It inspired some of the foremost composers and painters of the day, becoming the primary theatre platform for the most up-to-date work in the arts. Proponents of another reform movement, “modern dance,” (modern dance) took their cue from the American dancer Isadora Duncan to strike in another way at the artificialities that Romantic ballet had generated. It took vigorous roots in Germany, where its expressionistic forms earned it the name Ausdruckstanz (“expressionistic dance”). The ballroom dances were thoroughly revolutionized through infusions of new vitality from South American, Creole, and black sources. With the overwhelming popularity of Afro-American jazz, the entire spirit and style of social dancing altered radically, becoming vastly more free, relaxed, and intimate through the following decades.

      There was also a renewal of interest in the folk dances that had been the expressions of the common people in past centuries. This was fostered partly through special folk-dance societies, partly through various youth movements that saw that these dances might assist in shaping new community feelings. Theatrical dance of all kinds, from the highly stylized, centuries-old dances of the Orient to exhibitions of naked female flesh, reached new heights of popularity.

Diaghilev and his achievements
      The artistic consequences of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes were enormous. Diaghilev's interest in dance began while he was a member of a small circle of intellectuals in St. Petersburg who fought to bring Russia's (Russia) arts onto the wider European scene. The painters Alexandre Benois and Léon Bakst were his earliest collaborators.

The Ballets Russes
      The Russian ballet troupe that Diaghilev took to Paris in 1909 boasted some of the best dancers from the imperial theatres in St. Petersburg and Moscow. They set all Paris ablaze. No living person could remember ballets of such quality. For the next 20 years the Ballets Russes, which never appeared in Russia, became the foremost ballet company in the West. Diaghilev, who never choreographed a ballet himself, possessed a singular flair for bringing the right people together. He became the focus of the ballet world, striving for the integration of dance, music, visual design, and libretto into a “total work of art” in which no one element dominated the others.

      Between 1909 and 1929, the contributions of many of the finest dancers and choreographers and of some of the most avant-garde, style-setting painters and composers made the Diaghilev company the centre of creative artistic activity. The group became a haven for Russian dancers who emigrated after the 1917 Revolution. It was the first large, permanently travelling company that operated on a private basis and catered to a cosmopolitan Western clientele.

      Michel Fokine (Fokine, Michel) (1880–1942) was the first choreographer to put Diaghilev's ideas into practice. He worked with contemporary composers, notably the Russian Igor Stravinsky (Stravinsky, Igor) (1882–1971) and the Frenchman Maurice Ravel (1875–1937). Stravinsky composed the score for two of Fokine's best known ballets, L'Oiseau de feu (The Firebird; 1910) and Petrushka (1911); both are based on old Russian folktales. He drew also upon many eminent composers of the past, such as the Russians Aleksandr Borodin (1833–87) and Nicolay Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908), and the Pole Frédéric Chopin (1810–49). His major scenic artists were Benois and Bakst, whose contributions to theatrical design had influences beyond the sphere of ballet. Among his dancers were the Russians Anna Pavlova (1881–1931), who left after the 1909 season to dance with her own company throughout the West as well as the Orient, and Vaslav Nijinsky (Nijinsky, Vaslav) (1890–1950), who succeeded Fokine as the company's choreographer. A classic dancer, Nijinsky was an anticlassic choreographer, specializing in turned-in body movements and in unusual footwork. In 1912 Nijinsky choreographed L'Après-midi d'un faune (Afternoon of a Faun) to music written by the French Impressionist composer Claude Debussy (1862–1918)—it is the only Nijinsky ballet still performed. The following year he created Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) to Stravinsky's music. The unconventional ballet was considered scandalous and nearly caused a riot at its Paris premiere.

      After Nijinsky's career was cut short by his insanity, the dancer Léonide Massine (Massine, Léonide) (1896–1979) assumed the role of choreographer. He quickly became noted for his wit and the precisely characterizing gestures of his dancers. His musical collaborators included Stravinsky; Manuel de Falla (1876–1946), whose work was full of the flavour of his native Spain; Ottorino Respighi (1879–1936), noted for his musical evocations of Italian landscapes; and Erik Satie (1866–1925), a Frenchman known for his originality and eccentricity. Massine's designers included leading painters of the School of Paris such as André Derain (1880–1954) and Pablo Picasso (1881–1973). Following Diaghilev's death, Massine created a furor in the 1930s with his ballets based on symphonies by Tchaikovsky and Johannes Brahms. It was considered inappropriate to use symphonic music for dance, and the incorporation of the style and movements of modern dance into the plotless ballets added to the controversy.

      Another of Diaghilev's choreographers was Nijinsky's sister, Bronisława Nijinska (1891–1972), who became famous for her massive ensemble groupings, used to great effect in Les Noces (The Wedding; 1923), and her talent for depicting the follies of contemporary society. Diaghilev's last choreographic discovery was the Russian-trained George Balanchine (Balanchine, George) (1904–83). Balanchine's 1928 ballet, Apollon Musagète, was the first of many collaborations with Stravinsky and led the way to the final enthronement of neoclassicism as the dominant choreographic style of the following decades.

The continuing tradition
      When Diaghilev died his was no longer the only ballet company touring the world. Anna Pavlova's (Pavlova, Anna) company visited places in Europe, the Americas, Australia, and the Orient that had never heard of, let alone seen, ballet. A troupe assembled by Ida Rubinstein (1885–1960) had Nijinska as a choreographer and Stravinsky and Ravel as composers. The Ballets Suédois featured, from 1920 to 1925, another group of avant-garde, largely French (France) and Italian composers, painters, and writers. New dancers came from the schools in Paris, London, and Berlin that were directed by self-exiled Russian teachers. Important developments took place in London, where Dame Marie Rambert (1888–1982), a Diaghilev dancer, founded the Ballet Rambert, and Ninette de Valois founded the company that became in 1956 the Royal Ballet. In New York, Balanchine set up the School of American Ballet in 1934. From it he drew the dancers for the several companies that led ultimately to the founding of the New York City Ballet in 1948.

The Soviet ballet
      Although Diaghilev's achievements were ignored there, the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) in the 1920s abounded with the daring choreographic experiments of Fyodor Lopukhov (1886–1973) and others. Despite the official imposition of “socialist realism” as the criterion of artistic acceptability in 1932, ballet gained enormous popularity with the Soviet people. They loved their dancers, who were superbly trained by generations of teachers under the leadership of Agrippina Vaganova (1879–1951).

      Despite the recovery of ballet from its sterility in the late 19th century, other dancers questioned the validity of an art form so inescapably bound to tradition by its relatively limited vocabulary. They wished to change radically the culture concept of expressive stage dancing. In a period of women's emancipation, women stepped to the front as propagandists for the new dance and toppled the conventions of the academic dance. They advocated a dance that arose from the dancer's innermost impulses to express himself or herself in movement. They took their cues from music or such other sources as ancient Greek vase paintings and the dances of Oriental and American Indian cultures.

      The pioneers of this new dance were Isadora Duncan (Duncan, Isadora) (1877–1927), who stormed across European stages in her loosely flying tunic, inspiring a host of disciples and imitators, and Ruth St. Denis (St. Denis, Ruth) (1877–1968), who surprised American and European audiences with her Oriental-style dances. With her partner Ted Shawn (1891–1972) she founded (1915) Denishawn (Denishawn School of Dancing and Related Arts), which, as a school and performing company, became the cradle of America's early protagonists of modern dance; notable among them were Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman (1901–75).

      In the German Ausdruckstanz the central figure was Rudolf Laban (Laban, Rudolf) (1879–1958), who was more a theoretician and teacher than a choreographer. His researches into the physiological impulses to movement and rhythm crystallized in a formidable system of physical expression. His system of dance notation, known most widely as Labanotation, provided the first means for writing down and copyrighting choreographies. His most prolific disciples were Kurt Jooss (Jooss, Kurt) (1901–79) and Mary Wigman (Wigman, Mary) (1886–1973). Jooss became known for his dances containing strong elements of social commentary. Wigman had also studied with Émile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865–1950), who developed eurythmics, a system of movement originally designed to train professional musicians in rhythm. Wigman blended features of both men's techniques into her own new style of dance. When she toured the United States in the 1930s, Americans became aware that they were not alone in their search for new forms of expressive dance. She left behind one of her closest collaborators, Hanya Holm, who became another major figure on the American scene.

      Across the United States schools opened, producing small groups of dancers who performed on college campuses and on small stages in the cities. Each choreographer and company brought different materials, artistic points of view, and performing styles to the dance. Perhaps the single element common to all of the many facets of modern dance was the search for new and valid forms of artistic expression.

New rhythms, new forms
      The changes in the social climate that were evident in the new century had a notable influence on the ballrooms. (ballroom dance)

      The younger generation in Europe eagerly took up the more vivacious, dynamic, and passionate social dances from the New World. The turning dances of the 19th century gave way to such walking dances as the two-step, the one-step, or turkey trot, the fox-trot, and the quickstep, performed to the new jagged rhythms. These rhythms were African (African music) in origin, whether from the Latin-American tangos and rumbas or from the Afro-American jazz. It is impossible to say how far this music was reduced in intensity from its original forms, but its influence was enormous in shaping the ragtime popular before 1918, the syncopated rhythms and mellower swing that followed it, the acrobatic jitterbug of the 1930s and 1940s, and the rock and roll of the next decades.

Dance contests and codes
      After 1912, when ballroom tango became the rage of the dancing world, even elegant hotels invited their clientele to their “tango teas.” In fashionable restaurants professional dance couples demonstrated the new styles. In 1892 New York City saw one of the first cakewalk competitions, and in 1907 Nice advertised the first tango contest. After the first world dance competition in 1909, in Paris, this became an annual event, which in 1913 lasted for two weeks. But it was England that acted as arbiter of taste for the new movements in social dance. There the first dance clubs, like the Keen Dancers' Society (later the Boston Club), were founded in 1903. In 1904 the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing was established, and in 1910 the periodical Dancing Times made its bow. After World War I the English version of the fox-trot was acknowledged as the essence of the internationally acclaimed “English style.” (United Kingdom) Victor Silvester's Modern Ballroom Dancing (1928) became the handbook of the dancing world until it was succeeded by Alex Moore's Ballroom Dancing (1936). The English style involved strict definitions for the five standard dances—quickstep, waltz, fox-trot, tango, and blues—to which were added after 1945 the Latin-American rumba, samba, calypso, and cha-cha-cha. What was left of the social barriers existing in 1900 between the exclusive and the popular dancing establishments was swept away.

      Many observers were indignant about the changes taking place. Even so liberal a historian as Curt Sachs (Sachs, Curt) could not refrain from stating:

Since the Brazilian maxixe of 1890 and the cakewalk of 1903 broke up the pattern of turns and glides that dominated the European round dances, our generation has adopted with disquieting rapidity a succession of Central American dances, in an effort to replace what has been lost to modern Europe: multiplicity, power, and expressiveness of movement to the point of grotesque distortion of the entire body. . . . All [of these dances are] compressed into even movement, all emphasizing strongly the erotic element, and all in that glittering rhythm of syncopated four-four measures classified as ragtime. (From Curt Sachs, op. cit., pp. 444–445.)

      Sachs went on to note the rapid rise and fall in popularity of individual dances and suggested an impermanence to the entire movement.

Effect on folk dancing (folk dance)
 As social dancing spread with the advent of the radio and the phonograph, the regions where genuine folk dancing was practiced became fewer. It continued least corrupted by the new forms in those countries outside the mainstream of Western urbanization and industrialization. Spain maintained its vigorous tradition of flamenco dancing (see photograph—>), and in Hungary the composers Béla Bartók (Bartók, Béla) (1881–1945) and Zoltán Kodály (Kodály, Zoltán) (1882–1967) collected the remnants of a wealth of folk song and dance folklore. Minority groups such as the Basques in Spain did likewise to maintain their identity against the overpowering influences of their neighbours.

      Folk dancing remained a vital reality in the Soviet Union, especially in those European and Asiatic provinces that had distinctive ethnic populations and were far removed from Moscow, Leningrad, and other centres with Western contacts. In the industrial nations of Europe and the Americas, special nationwide councils and societies were founded to preserve the traditional folk dance that was under threat of extinction.

      Technological progress itself became the subject of dance and dancing. In the Soviet Union, there were experiments during the 1920s with dances created to express urban traffic, the accuracy of machine work, and the grandeur of skyscrapers. In Germany, the painter Oskar Schlemmer (1888–1943) realized his vision of a dance of pure, geometric form in the Triadisches Ballet performed in Stuttgart in 1922. In 1926 a sound vision of the technological ages, Ballet mécanique (Mechanical Ballet), by the American composer George Antheil (Antheil, George) (1900–59), was scored for mechanical pianos, automobile horns, electric bells, and airplane propellers. It was written not for the live dancer but for an animated film.

The dance since 1945
      Dance of all kinds emerged from World War II, more vital and more expansive than before.

Social dance
      Postwar social dancing was marked by continuing exuberance and enthusiasm. Dances such as the jitterbug, popular throughout the 1930s and '40s, included lively turns and lifts with rapid footwork. Motion pictures and television helped to spread such rock and roll dances as the twist more rapidly and widely than dances had travelled before. A characteristic of this new generation of jazz-based dances was the lack of bodily contact between the participants, who vibrated their legs, gesticulated with their hands, swung their shoulders, and twitched their heads.

      Many observers attempted to draw social implications of all kinds from these dances, which began to spread also among the youth of the Communist countries of Eastern Europe and Asia. Among the more interesting interpretations was that of Frances Rust:

. . . this type of dancing can be thought of as “progression” rather than “regression.” Historically speaking, country-dancing of a communal or group nature gives way, with the break up of communities, to partnered-up ballroom dancing with a concentration on couples rather than groups. This, in turn, is now replaced amongst young people by partner-less dancing, which, although individualistic, seems none-the-less, to be rooted in a striving for community feeling and group solidarity (from Dance in Society; Routledge and Kegon Paul, 1969).

      In the mid-1970s, disco dancing brought a return to dancing with a partner in choreographed steps in dances such as the hustle and the bump. Disco was influenced by modern jazz dancing and became rather athletic, incorporating kicks, turns, and even backflips. Athletic dance moves continued to develop, especially in the 1980s in break dancing, an acrobatic style that featured intricate contortions, mime-like walking moves, and rapid spins on the neck and shoulders. Less complicated dance styles also were found, such as slam dancing, in which the dancers hurled their bodies against each other's, and dances such as the pogo, in which dancers jumped in place to the music's rhythm. Partner dancing never disappeared completely, however, and was especially prominent in the “western-swing” dancing of American country and western music.

Dance in the theatre
      On the postwar ballet scene there were no revolutionary developments such as those of Diaghilev earlier in the century. The classical ballet style reigned supreme throughout the West and in the Soviet Union. The leading Russian (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) companies, the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg, continued the great 19th-century Russian tradition of full-length dramatic ballets. The popularity of ballet and the establishment of many apparently permanent companies made inevitable wide variations in style and content. International tours were resumed on a large scale. There was also considerable interaction in terms of style and personnel between ballet and modern dance. This was especially true at the New York City Ballet, founded in the late 1940s by George Balanchine (Balanchine, George) and Lincoln Kirstein. The company presented many new works by choreographers such as Jerome Robbins (Robbins, Jerome), William Dollar, and Sir Frederick Ashton (the latter principal choreographer and director of Britain's Royal Ballet), but it was Balanchine's style that dominated the company through great ballets such as The Nutcracker (1954) and Don Quixote (1965) and more abstract works such as Agon (1957) and Jewels (1967). After Balanchine's death in 1983, Robbins and dancer-choreographer Peter Martins became ballet masters in chief and continued the company's tradition and at the same time introduced new works.

      Another leading company was the American Ballet Theatre, founded in 1939. Its repertoire combined a broad range of works by choreographers such as Antony Tudor and Eliot Feld and balanced classical ballets with established contemporary pieces and newly commissioned works. After the retirement of co-directors Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith in 1980, the great Latvian-born U.S. dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov (Baryshnikov, Mikhail) was named artistic director.

      The development of modern dance continued in the work of innovative dancer-choreographers who formed their own companies to explore new styles of dance. Martha Graham's (Graham, Martha) expressive dance centred on mythic and legendary themes, whether ancient, as in Primitive Mysteries (1931) and Clytemnestra (1958), or modern, as in Appalachian Spring (1944). One of Graham's dancers, Merce Cunningham (Cunningham, Merce), concentrated on abstract movement that minimized emotional content and experimented with techniques for achieving purity of movement, including arranging sequences of dance steps by flipping a coin. Twyla Tharp (Tharp, Twyla) was another experimental choreographer whose early work reduced dance to its most fundamental level—movement through open areas, often without music. Her later work melded classical ballet and jazz with modern dance. A different perspective was offered by Arthur Mitchell (Mitchell, Arthur), who left the New York City Ballet to found the Dance Theatre of Harlem, a company with strong roots in classical ballet.

      The American musical (musical performance) theatre benefitted from the techniques of theatrical dance forms. Choreographers of ballet and modern dance also created works for musical comedy. Agnes deMille (de Mille, Agnes) choreographed Rodeo (1942) for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and later created many modern works for the American Ballet Theatre; she also choreographed the stage and film versions of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! (1943 and 1955, respectively) and the stage versions of Carousel (1945) and Paint Your Wagon (1951). Jerome Robbins contributed excellent works for the stage in The King and I (1951) and Fiddler on the Roof (1967), as well as the stage and film versions of West Side Story (1957 and 1961).

      Companies presenting dances from India, Sri Lanka, Bali, and Thailand were no longer considered exotic on Western stages, and their influences contributed to both ballet and modern dance. Numerous ensembles sprang up, their repertoires based on traditional national dances adapted for the stage. Many were modelled on the Moiseyev folk-dance company of the Soviet Union, which had attracted large audiences during its frequent European and American tours. Similar companies existed in several eastern European countries, in Israel, and in some African nations, as well as in Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines.

      From the beginning of the 20th century, the dance scene became extremely multifaceted and colourful. If some of its manifestations appeared contradictory, that could be regarded as proof of its vitality. No other century granted dance so prominent a role among its social activities. Indications of this prominence included a vast increase in dance research and writing, the opening of colleges and universities in America to special dance faculties, and establishment in the Soviet Union of institutes for the study of choreography. And dance notation promised great advances in recording specific choreographies and as a basic linguistic tool in dance education.

Additional Reading
Curt Sachs, A World History of the Dance (1937, reprinted 1965; originally published in German, 1933), the most comprehensive, systematic, and factual history of dance in all its epochs and forms, with special emphasis on its earliest beginnings and close attention to dance accompaniment; W.F. Raffé, Dictionary of the Dance (1965, reissued 1975), detailed descriptions of the particular dances, their background, and history; Anatole Chujoy and P.W. Manchester (eds.), The Dance Encyclopedia, rev. ed. (1967), a collection of articles on all forms of dancing—particularly detailed in its coverage of ballet, including entries on specific productions, artistic biographies, and histories of ballet in various countries; Horst Koegler, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ballet, 2nd ed. (1982), a comprehensive reference work; Lincoln Kirstein, Dance: A Short History of Classic Theatrical Dancing (1935, reprinted 1970), a very thorough book on the pre-balletic forms of dance as well as classic theatrical dance; Walter Sorell, The Dance Through the Ages (1967), a general, readable survey of the worldwide dance scene from prehistoric times through today, with superb pictures of ancient and modern dance; A.H. Franks, Social Dance: A Short History (1963), the first attempt at relating the origins and developments of the most important social dance forms to their social environment; Frances Rust, Dance in Society (1969), a study giving documentary evidence of the social dances and their relationships to the changing structures of society, with emphasis on the English scene and the teenage explosion in dance during the 1960s.Horst Koegler Ed.

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Universalium. 2010.

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