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New Worlds of Dance*

6 Jan

*Chapter 6 of Dancing: The Pleasure, Power, and Art of Movement by Gerald Jonas

Dance through Time

Dance in most cultures requires the members to perform movements with other individuals that are approved by their society. It started as a conservative force or medium to rally the faithful to religious devotions, give public sanction to private feelings, define community standards of behavior and test their limits. Traditional forms of dance reaffirms time-honored ways of relating the members of the society to their institutions and gods. So when change threatens the values and customs of the society, the dances can also be affected. And since our world is now gearing towards globalization, societies who hold dear to their traditional dances proclaim their allegiance to the values of their dances as a whole, or at least with most of their members.

Social Dance

As part of growing, whether as individuals or societies, people will tend to leave their communities to “seek greener pastures”. Subconsciously, people take dance with them. This is when they arrive in a new place and start dancing during social events, they re-create an important part of their culture. And when people from different heritages gather and dance as a group, there is a fusion of dance forms. There will be a mix of traditional, social and modern dances and people will be amazed at how they were able to borrow and transform movements and reflect new social realities.

From the time that slaves were traded in America and Africa, to the courtesans from the Europe and the ballroom dancing to the upbeat music of the Americas, the traditional dances from these places have influenced one another by their history. The variety of the dances were fueled by the “dancing of the slaves” and was brought to the “big houses” or “courts” of the kings and queens. And during the Civil War in America, people needed to divert their attention and fear and have an outlet through dancing. These factors have contributed to the new worlds of dance and the history and heritage of each society have greatly influenced by it. The generation of today may not understand the background of the dances because they are too focused on the steps rather than understanding where the steps/movements came from. We should strive to educate the people since we are part of the waning new world and into the modern world.

Slave Trade Poster

 

French Dances

Romero and Grable