Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 8 >> Dance Of Death to Dean >> Dancing_P1

Dancing

danced, dance, dances, introduced, ballet, dancers, practised, time, exercise and ballets

Page: 1 2

DANCING, a form of exercise or amuse ment in which one or more persons make a series of graceful movements in measured steps in accord with music. Aristotle ranked dancing with poetry, and Pindar applies the name of ((The even to Apollo. Dancing- corre sponds to a universal primitive instinct in man, and is practised by the South Sea Islanders, the Forest Indians of Brazil, the Zulus, the negroes of central Africa and the native Australians, exactly as it was in the earlier stages of every civilized modern race. Ferocious war-dances were practised by savage warriors, as the North American Indian braves, who brought on a frantic mechanical intoxication capable cif carry ing them to victory. The Zulu war-dance is a noble exercise for warriors, like the Pyrrhic dance of the ancient Spartans; and the dancing and spinning dervishes in the East, who work themselves into spasms of physical excitement, are still highly esteemed for devoutness and piety. The idea of magic always enters into savage dancing. Thus, the Mandan Indians dance the buffalo-dance to bring, game when supplies of food are low. The rain doctors of central Africa dance mystic dances to bring rain; and the wives of the Gold Coast negroes dance a battle-dance to give their absent bands courage in battle.

The art of dancing dates back to the early Egyptians, who ascribe that invention to their god, Thoth. Among the ancient Jews, Miriam danced to a sound of trumpets, itself an act of worship, and David danced in procession before the Ark of God. Religious processions went with song and dance to the temples; the Cretan chorus moving in measured pace sang hymns to the Greek god, Apollo, and one of the Muses (Terpsichore) was the special patroness of the art. The Phrygian Corybantes danced in honor of Cybele, and the festivals of Rhea Silvia at Rome were also accompanied with wild dances, while during the early festival of Mars the, Salian priests sang and danced, beating their shields. The Spartans practised dancing as a gymnastic exercise and made it compulsory on all children from the age of five. The Romans in general considered it disgraceful for a free citizen to dance except in connection with re ligions rites, but willingly witnessed the per formances of professional dancers like the Alme of modern Egypt, and the Baderes, or Nautch girls, of India. The early Christians practised choral dances, which cone into discredit with the love-feasts or Agapse. A survival of reli gious dancing is still seen even within the pale of Christendom, where during the Corpus Christi octave a ballet is danced every evening by boys from 12 to 17 years of age, wearing plumed hats and in the dress of pages of Philip III's time.

The Puritan ancestors saw deadly sin in promiscuous dancing. Father Mariana tells us, that the famous saraband worked more mischief than 'the plague. 'The' fandango was hotly con-. detrined by the clergy, but :when danced before the Sacred College,: who wished to see it before prohibiting it so charmed the judges that they gave it their unanimous approval. • Many of the niedimial dances were solemn and stately in char-aet4r: 'like the 'ianses•. basses, which were danced to psalm tunes at the court of Charles) IX of Francp, • It is. said that,the whole atignst Council Of Trent dariced'at a ball given in I562 to King Philip II of Spain.• The Galliarde and velto were .introduced into France from by Catharine de Medici. Dancing reached its

height during the reign of Louis XIV, who was himself an enthusiastic dancer in the court ballets' ' .:. ' I . ' . • The minuet was a favorite in France for a century; and then cattle the quadrille or tontre danre, often connected erroneously with the English country-dance; the Ecossaise was first introduced in 1760; the galop was introduced ' from Germany; the cotillion was fashionable under Charles.X; polka was first danced at the. °demi in 1840 • by a dancing master front Prague 'f•tbe p011sa tremblante or schottiseh, was OfBohemian origin and was first brought out in Paris in• I844; the lancers was introduced' by Laborde in '1861.; and the waltz, originally Ba varian, and now modified from its original foren,. promises to retain its supremacy: Characteristic of races or of classes of people are such forms of the dance I as the Scotch reel, Highland fling and strati/. sPey, 'the /fish jig,', the negro breakdowns, ors', hornpipe, -step-dances; the Can-can, motels 'etc. - • • ' . .' . • • ; '' A ballet is' a theatrical' exhihition of pOsttiring 'and pantomimic "action.' The Roman pantenumes bore a strong blatice modern 'birilet traction: In an en tertainnieet to celebrate the victory of Actium, the aTrachinlaen of Sophocles, and•an erotic interlude' founded on the myth of Leda, were performed dunib 'show, the: dancers' Pylatles had Bathyllits• taking the leading parts;; &id the whole would Up with a Pyrrhic' war.' dance.' Some 'tradition of this form of enter.) doubtless Suggeited the courtly dances Which became 'frishionable•in the early days of' the 'Renaissance.' The first Ott record wis that: given by Berri:trip di' 'Botta,' at Toriona,) tb' celebrate the marriage of the Duke of Milan in 1489, This was famous throtighOnt the civilized world. ' Front that time great event ,s , such as royal marriages and births, Were celebrated by grand' productions of ballet on which enormous sums of money were lavished, • These' ballets were frequently historical ih subject, tieating•f the siege of Troy, the conquests of Alexander and similar events. There were 'also rnYthologi.: cal, poetical, moral and fantastic ballets, on such subjects as the Judgment of 'Paris, the Sea-. Sons, Truth, the Diversions of the Carnival, etc.. All these were in five. actsileaCh of which siSted of 3, 6, ,9.or 42 entries, and in all of Ahern, singing and recitation mingled with the dancing. ' ' Catharine de Medici introduced the 11 , hitt, Franee, and erkocra erl dances by females' that would now 'be deem 'highly improper, to' A stract•the attentionOf '• r ' Son, 'III, from, state affairs. Henry IV was a great sii eOrte,r' Of the ballet„ rio' fewer than 80 grand entertainments tieing giYen by Mai:between 1589 and 1610. ? . liouliv XIII and Ii.ouisi'XIII carried their love of ballet to 'an ektrahe length, and themselves danced publicly. In 1661 the latter founded, an Academy of the Dahee, with Qui nault as director and Lully as composer. It was not until 1681 that female dancers appeared in public, the first being four. ladies, Who danced "La 'Triomphe de l'Amour.° . In the early part of the 18th century the names of professional dancers began to appear, two of the most fa mous being Mlles. Salle and Camargo, immor talized by' 'Voltaire. The great male dancer of his time was Dupre, the predecessor of the universally known Gaetano Vestris.

Page: 1 2