The Evolution of Dance



9 Questions

What is the possible origin of dance?

What was the purpose of many dances in the early periods?

What was the significance of dance in religious or shamanic rituals?

What is the origin of ballet dancing?

When did ballet transition from a courtly dance to performance art in its own right?

What was the era of Romanticism in ballet characterized by?

What is the artistic scope of ballet technique like today?

What is the significance of dance in African culture?

What is the origin of hip-hop dance?


Timeline of the development of dance

  • Dance does not leave behind physical artifacts that last over millennia, making it difficult to access the history of dance.

  • Dance may have existed in early primates before they evolved into humans, and may have been used as a tool of social interaction that promoted cooperation essential for survival among early humans.

  • Many dances of the early periods were performed as a ritual to the Gods who ancestors believed needed to be kept entertained for world peace.

  • Dance may be performed in religious or shamanic rituals, and may have been used as a precursor to ecstatic trance states in healing rituals.

  • Dance may have been one of the methods of passing stories down from generation to generation before the production of written languages.

  • Ballet dancing can be traced back to the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, where dance masters would teach the steps to nobility and the court would participate in performances as a form of social entertainment.

  • By the 18th century, ballet had migrated from the French and Italian royal courts to the Paris Opéra and became a recognized art that was performed by professional dancers rather than courtiers.

  • During the 18th century, ballet transitioned from a courtly dance of moving images as a spectacle to performance art in its own right.

  • The era of Romanticism produced ballets inspired by fantasy, mystique, and the unfamiliar cultures of exotic places.

  • The 20th century was a period of unprecedented creative growth for dancers and choreographers, and a time of breaking away from everything that ballet stood for.

  • Currently, the artistic scope of ballet technique is more all-encompassing than ever and the boundaries that classify a work of classical ballet are constantly being stretched.

  • Dance can help tell a story, convey feelings and emotions, and connect with others and ourselves, and is filled with aesthetic values that make it distinct from one society to another.

  • Dance is shrouded in symbolism that expounds on the cultural heritage of a community, accordingly being unique from one society to another, and can be a means of social communication and bonding.A Brief History of Dance

  • Ballets Russes revolutionized the definition of dance, bringing together music, design, and dance, and collaborating with geniuses such as Coco Chanel and Pablo Picasso.

  • African dance is based on traditional rhythms and music traditions of the region, and is deeply rooted in culture and tradition. It falls into three categories based on purpose: religious, griotic, and ceremonial. Dance was often important to the maintenance of a ruler's status in the tribal society.

  • African dance styles were merged with new cultural experiences to form new styles of dance as people were taken from Africa to be sold as slaves. These dances have evolved into modern dance styles, such as African-American dance and Brazilian dance.

  • Postmodernism in the 1960s veered towards simplicity and unsophisticated movement, but it was not long before sets, décor, and shock value re-entered the vocabulary of modern choreographers.

  • By the 1980s, modern dance and classical ballet were living peacefully next door to one another with little of the rivalry and antipathy of previous eras. Street dance, hip-hop dance, and breakdancing also emerged during this time.

  • Hip-hop dance started when Clive Campbell, aka Kool DJ Herc, came to New York from Jamaica in 1967 and is now a cornerstone of hip-hop culture.


How much do you know about the development of dance? Take this quiz to test your knowledge and learn about the evolution of dance from early primates to modern-day styles such as hip-hop and ballet. Discover the role of dance in ritual, storytelling, and social communication throughout history and how it has transformed over time. From the courts of Renaissance Italy to the Afro-Caribbean rhythms of African dance, this quiz will take you on a journey through the cultural heritage of dance and its significance in different societies

Ready to take the quiz?

Start Quiz