Dancing in Antiquity

One of the oldest words regarding dance is Mousiké. It was for dance, music and poetry which in ancient times formed a unity.

Just as music was played long before it was written (or even later, registered and recorded) was dancing too, long practiced before dances were listed or described. We do not know how long humans or humanoids already are dancing.
On rock carvings are figures showed of which we can assume that they dance. They are thousands, sometimes more than 30,000 years old. A remarkable dancer is the in animal skins dressed Shaman or Le danseur des Trois Frères ("Dancing Sorcerer") from Montesquieu-Avantès (Fr), approximately 13,000 BC

Since there is no text or clear visual material from the prehistoric everyone has the right to make up a story for himself. Concerned dance it is often compared to the situation at contemporary primitive peoples. But also at the features dance still has with us today. It provides inspiration for the creation of dance, and the different types of dance we can distinguish, which can be found in almost all cultures.

dansenoudheidThey danced to beg for favors of gods. This also includes a successful hunt, or fertility. Through repetition and tradition arose fixed patterns and rituals. These religious dances took probably place in a circle from India to Gaul. Later around a (sacred) tree or place of sacrifice, and at a temple.

A special variant is the ecstatic dance, with dancers, faithful believers or priests (-ess) dancing until they get outside themselves. Perhaps some found in headbanging and dancing dervish.

Hunting dances had also possible narrative and / or educational function. This siding has probably led to theater dance, and theater in general.

Another track developed into armed, combat or war dance. Not only useful to whip up warriors, but also to intimidate the opponents (see also Haka). The Romans and Greeks even had military dances that were purely physical training, with fast turns, defensive and offensive movements. Martial Arts was later sometimes camouflaged as a dance. (See Capoeira.)

From thanking the gods for a successful hunt or harvest, it is a small step to dance as a social event. A harvest celebration, a celebration, relaxation, togetherness, marriage, fun, maypole, death ...

And beg the gods for fertility and healthy living descendants is just a (dance) pass away from temptation dancing or mating behavior. We even also find this in many other species (See viper dance, dancing animals, mosquitoes dance, mating dance ...) The attention is then usually of story and purpose to beautiful women and movements. Also, research on contemporary dance shows that we can derive (subconscious) from their dance moves the vitality of potential partners and their suitability for reproduction .

So not much new under the sun.

Another constant throughout the history of the dance is that the religious and / or political elite was always ready to condemn dance, contempt and prohibit it. By elevating themselves above the people they looked down on what they called vulgar. Especially dances where people touched each other they found obscene. (e.g Argentine tango, waltz, bachata). When they finally took the movements the men initially used gloves, or a handkerchief to touch the lady (waltz). The round spin or rotate (Viennese waltz), and moving with hips and pelvis (merengue, salsa ..) were originally detested by the elite.
For later, as always, eager to be adopted. Possibly after a little scraping and civilizing (e.g. ballroom tango).

Until the 6th century church dances were still normal and customary. Later "the work of the Devil" then was a sin. (See also Dance of Death). After 1204 only a procession with dance steps was allowed.
With the Renaissance (around 1450) dancing became popular again. The first written dance was registrated by Louis Pecourt at the court of Louis XVI in 1670.