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This nOde last updated December 17th, 2004 and is permanently morphing...
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dance (dàns) verb
danced, dancing, dances verb, intransitive
1.To move rhythmically usually to music, using prescribed or improvised steps and gestures.
2.a. To leap or skip about excitedly. b. To appear to flash or twinkle: eyes that danced with merriment. c. Informal. To appear to skip about; vacillate: danced around the issue.
3.To bob up and down.
1.To engage in or perform (a dance).
2.To cause to dance.
3.To bring to a particular state or condition by dancing: My partner danced me to exhaustion.
1.A series of rhythmical motions and steps, usually to music.
2.The art of dancing: "[They] have both offered as a definition of dance: a spiritual activity in physical form" (Susan Sontag).
3.A party or gathering of people for dancing; a ball.
4.One round or turn of dancing: May I have this dance?
5.A musical or rhythmical accompaniment composed or played for dancing.
6.The act or an instance of dancing.
[Middle English dauncen, from Old French danser,
perhaps of Germanic origin.]
- danc´er noun
- danc´ingly adverb
Dance, patterned and rhythmic bodily movements, usually performed to music, that serve as a form of communication or expression. It is performed throughout the world.
"Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music."
-- Angela Monet
"dance of Shiva" is what scientists call the dance of particles as they arise and disappear out of "quantum foam.
"Darwinism stresses conflict and competition; that doesn't square with the evidence. A lot of organisms that survive are in no sense superior to those that have gone extinct. It's not a question of being "better than"; it's simply a matter of finding a place where you can be yourself. That's what evolution is about. That's why you can see it as a dance. It's not going anywhere, it's simply exploring a space of possibilities." - Brian Goodwin
Dance and Human Culture
Dance can be art, ritual, or recreation. It serves many functions: to express emotions, moods, or ideas; to tell a story; to serve religious, political, economic, or social needs; or simply to be an experience that is pleasurable, exciting, or aesthetically valuable.
The two main kinds of dance are those for participation, which do not need spectators, and those for presentation, which are designed for an audience. The primary elements of dance include the use of four things: space, such as floor patterns and the shapes of the moving body; time, such as tempo and rhythmic variations; the body's weight in relation to gravity; and energy flow, such as tense or freely flowing motion.
Dancing, besides giving physical pleasure, can have psychological effects. Feelings and ideas can be expressed and communicated; sharing rhythms and movements can make a group feel unified. In some cultures, shamans dance in trance in order to heal others. The modern field of dance therapy developed as a means to help people express themselves and relate to others. In some societies, dancing often leads to trance or other xaltered states of consciousness. These altered states of consciousnenss may be sought as a means to emotional release, or can be interpreted as signaling possession by spirits. A trance state may enable people to perform remarkable feats of strength, endurance, or to better sennse their universal spirit.
Prehistoric cave paintings depict figures in animal costumes who seem to be dancing, possibly in hunting or fertility rituals, or perhaps for education or entertainment. In ancient Egypt, dancing was essential to agricultural and religious festivals. Warrior or pyrrhic dances were part of military training in ancient Greece, and religious dances are believed to be the origin of dance in Greek drama. Variations of peasant dances originating in the Middle Ages (5th century to 15th century) continue today as folk dances, which are usually group forms that are passed from one generation to another.
Ballet originated in the courts of Italy and France during the Renaissance (14th century to 17th century), becoming primarily a professional discipline. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, reaction against ballet's traditional forms led American dancers Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis, Swiss educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze, Hungarian dancer Rudolf von Laban, and German dancer Mary Wigman to develop forms of modern dance.
Popular and social dances, which are recreational forms, resemble folk dances in that they are for participation, are relatively easy to learn, and generally originate from the people rather than from a choreographer. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, the waltz and polka, originally peasant dances,evolved into social dances. In the United States various immigrant dances merged into new forms, such as tap dance.
Popularized by American dancers Irene and Vernon Castle, ballroom dances swept Europe and America in the early 20th century. The syncopations and movements of African-American dance evolved into forms such as the Charleston and the jitterbug, eventually merging with rock-and-roll dances. Such stars as American dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers popularized dance in motion pictures. The groundbreaking dance sequences in Oklahoma! (1943), with choreography by American Agnes de Mille, inspired a larger role for dance in musicals.
Frequently relying on symbolic gestures, masks or elaborate makeup, and magnificent costumes, Asian dances often narrate stories based on mythology, historical events, and legends. In Indian dance, classical dance forms have been revived on the basis of old manuscript descriptions and temple carvings. Japan, rich in folk dances, also has two major forms of dance-drama: no, a slow-paced dance and opera form, and kabuki, a form using theatrical devices. With its spectacular acrobatics, Peking opera is the best-known genre of Chinese dance-drama. In Indonesian dance, especially that in Java, female dancers formerly entertained royalty; in Bali, masked dramas and spirit-possession dances remain a part of village life.
Sub-Saharan African societies use masked dance when members imitate or are possessed by spirits. Dancing at rites of passage is also common. Oceanian dances, such as the Hawaiian hula, are often associated with storytelling or poetry. In New Guinea, dances are frequently performed in connection with warfare. North America's native peoples, rich in dance tradition, have developed pan-tribal social dances for performance at intertribal powwows. In Latin America, dances for religious and secular purposes remain a living tradition among many Native American tribes. Other Latin American dances borrow from African dance movements or combine Spanish movements with elements of Native American dances.
Native Americans engaged in a variety of rituals. As a person passed through the stages of the life cycle- obtaining a name after birth, seeking a guardian spirit at puberty, setting off at death for the journey to the afterlife- rituals marked the passages. In prayer, Native Americans used gestures and words as well as songs and dances to communicate with the spirits. Ceremonial observances of prayer and thanksgiving took place at critical points in the agricultural or hunting season- for example, upon the return of the first salmon from the ocean to the rivers; at the times of planting, ripening, and harvest; upon the appearance of sap in the maple trees; or at the summer and winter solstices.
New religious movements among Native Americans have at times taken on the character of crisis cults, which respond to cultural threat with emotional rituals. In the late 1800s some Native Americans believed that if they conducted a ceremony known as the Ghost Dance, depleted animal populations and deceased relatives would be restored. For several years, many indigenous peoples in the western part of North America performed the ceremony, even after United States Army troops massacred Sioux ghost dancers at Wounded Knee in South Dakota in 1890.
The Ghost Dance of the 1880s spread among a number of tribes that were all undergoing similar upheavals, and indigenous peoples of the Great Plains shared in each other's Sun Dances. The preeminent pan-Native American religious development, however, has been Peyotism, a religious movement centering on the sacramental ingestion of peyote, a mildly hallucinogenic cactus. In 1918 Peyotism was formally incorporated as the Native American Church. The group's status as a religious organization enabled members to seek legal protection for the ritual use of peyote. In the mid-1990s membership in the Native American Church was estimated to be 250,000.
Between the l880s and l930s, U.S. authorities attempted
to ban Native American religious rituals, including the Ghost Dance, Sun
Dance, and peyote cult. In Canada the same restrictive tendencies prevailed.
In more recent years, however, governmental authorities have adopted a
more supportive attitude toward the practice of native spirituality. In
1978 the Congress of the United States passed the American Indian Religious
Freedom Act, an official expression of good will toward Native American
Movements, an integral part of George Gurdjieff teachings, are designed to harmonize our thinking, feeling and moving; refine and develop our attention; and deepen our presence.
An Excerpt From "The Wanderer" by Khalil Gibran
Once there came to the court of the Prince of Birkasha, a dancer and her musicians. And she was admitted to the court. And she danced to the music of the flute, the lute, and the zither.
She danced the dance of flames and fire, and the dance of swords and spears; she danced the dance of stars and the dance of space, and then she danced the dance of flowers in the wind.
When she had finished, she
approached the prince and bowed her body before him. The prince bade her
to come nearer, and said unto her, "Beautiful woman, daughter of grace
and delight, whence comes
your art and how is it that you command all the elements in your rythyms and your rhymes?"
And the dancer came near and bowed her body again and said, "Gracious majesty, I know not the answer to your questionings. Only this I know:
The philosophers soul dwells within his head, the poets soul dwells within his heart, the singers soul dwells about his throat, but the soul of the dancer abides in all her body."
Dancing is probably one of the most ancient modes of generating altered states of consciousness. Over the last few decades, popular music has been exploring and refining the technology of modern trance (with a little help from drug technology as well). Our "future-primitive" moment is captured by the electronic, sample-driven, video-saturated trance dance, which uses beats and drones to secretly rewire the bodymind beneath the ego's supposed control center. As we continue to refine sound technology and the science of psycho-acoustics (not to mention nanochemical neuro-stimulation), music will become one part of an assemblage offorces whose effects will work their magic through the interface of our nervous system. Music will plug directly into the invisible world of vibrations where subjectivity (and visions) arise.
- Erik Davis - _The Future Mix_
track _Tribal (Coinci/Dance Mix)_ MP3 by Psychic TV off of _Tribal_CD on Temple (1994)
"Now I am light, now I fly, now I see myself beneath myself, now a god dances through me!" --- Friedrich Nietzche
"I could believe only in a god that would know how to dance." ~~ Friedrich Nietzche
"At the still point of the turning world, there the dance is. Without the point, the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only The Dance"
when i first started going to raves, beginning in 1995, i didn't know how to move. i was too used to the spectator sport of punk rock shows that denounced (and often rightly so) the testosterone filled slam pit and promoted the intellectual chin stubble rubbing and autistic body movements of the emo scene. i first "let go" when i went to my first moontribe. since it was outdoors, i had no idea that such freedom was possible. that night and morning, i realized that dancing wasn't a form to be perfected, it was a gradual chipping away at the dirt and grime accumulated with mental, physical, and emotional defense building. one becomes rigid when you experience negative vibes throughout life. in a nurturing environment, all that can finally be shed away, and you move like fluid... dancing is simply moving without restriction. the type of dancing i don't like is when it is formalized, and culturalized. then it becomes formal and boundary building again... - @Om* 10/4/01
"The crowd is open so long as its growth is not impeded; it is closed when its growth is limited… The stagnating crowd lives for its discharge… the process here starts not with equality but with density… In the rhythmic crowd… density and equality coincide from the beginning. Everything here depends on movement."
The rhythmic, or throbbing crowd is characterised by a specific state of communal excitement: "the means of achieving this state was first of all the rhythm of their feet, repeating and multiplied," not moving, but gathering intensity at one place and creating frenzy.
- Elias Canetti - _Crowds & Power_
Dance is, in general terms, human movement with an implied purpose such as the communication of an aesthetic or emotional idea, participation with music, and/or the achievement of certain mind-body states, sometimes spiritual-mystical ones, sometimes as simple as physical fitness. In this way, dance is contrasted to utilitarian movement--such as walking, hammering, typing, lifting weights, etc.--that has a direct "materialistic" purpose. There are other forms of human activity that can be classified as not strictly utilitarian, such as pantomime and sports. However, dance differs from these other forms of activity insofar as the dancer's movement diverges from necessity--insofar as the dancer's movement is shaped primarily by an aesthetic or emotional concern rather than by the need to run faster, leap farther, or communicate a concrete, discursive idea.
A dance also refers to a specific form of this movement. Specific dances have names that are recognized, and the specifics of the dance may be formalized. Examples of specific dances or families of dances are waltz, jig and salsa.
Some cultures have developed restricted codes of movement which describe specific dance styles such as Ballet, Bharata Natyam, etc. Indeed, from the sociological point of view, dance is usually considered to be a cultural rather than natural phenomenon. However, dance is fluid and thus the dances of one culture may be accepted and/or adapted by other cultures and turned to other purposes. For example, the social dances of one culture and time period might become the historical reenactment dances of another culture and time period.
Dancing can be done for the individual dancer's or for the dancers' own pleasure, or as pleasure for others i.e., performance.
Dance elements can be found in a number of sports, such as gymnastics, figure skating, synchronized swimming, and are often seamlessly blended with other types of art and sports, such as pantomime or gymnastics. Some cultures have elaborate forms of art, e.g., Indian Kathakali, that include dance as one of several organically connected elements.
The principal element of dance is the motion of the dancer's body.
Another important element of dance is rhythm. Although dance movement is often rhythmic, it is not always so. It usually requires the rhythm of music, even if only imaginary, or produced by the dancers themselves. In some dance styles, the dancers produce music by stomping, clapping, ringing the bells attached to body or garments, or by tapping metal plates attached to the bottom of their shoes.
Many folk and ethnic dances use steps and movements that imitate important everyday activities: agricultural, fishing, hunting, etc. However the purpose of a harvesting dance for example is not harvesting, rather, its a tale about harvesting or something similar. Some Indian dance styles use hand, face and eye movements to communicate meaning by the dancer.
Dance is found in every human culture. Dance scholar Alfred Gell has defined dance as "a stylized deformation of nondance mobility, just as poetry is a deformation or modulation of language, a deviation from the norm of expression that enhances expressiveness (Gell, Alfred. 'Style and Meaning in Umeda Dance' in: Spencer, Paul, ed. Society and the Dance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985)."
It is also said that dance is a form of nonverbal communication. In this sense, someone has said (bearing religious dance in mind) "Dance is the prayer of the feet".
There are numerous ways of classifying dances. Dances may be classified by their specific purpose, such as social dancing, performance dancing, or erotic dance. Dances may also be classified according to function based on specific spheres of cultural activity: religion, art, sport, recreation. Further, dances may be classified by number of participants, i.e. individually, as couples or in groups.
These classification are neither precise nor complete, and a dance may well be classified under several categories. For example, dance can be a form of therapy (choreotherapy) for some people, yet for others the same dance is simply a job.
A continuum of dance can be posited that stretches from the most extreme and solitary forms of non-technical, ritual dance (endurance/trance dancing) through a broad middle of folk dance (including everything from modern club dances to a medieval minuet), to extreme forms of performance dance such as neoclassical ballet or postmodern works employing decontextualized pedestrian movement.
Movement involving intricate step patterns unrelated to a form of expression, is sometimes referred to as dancing. Some examples:
* Boxers and fencers are said to dance around each other.
* Martial arts, especially Asian ones, are often rightfully compared to dancing.
* It is said that certain animals dance as part of their mating rituals. There is still great mystery surrounding these patterns. An example is bee dance, a remarkably regular movement which a honeybee often performs in a hive. It has been a mystery since man first domesticated the bees. Its purpose has only recently been uncovered.
Dance choreography is the act of planning a dance so a dancer will move in a certain way. The term also refers to the result of this planning.