DANCE The Art of Rhythm and Movement Dancing in ancient times Man has always danced. The oldest cave paintings and stone images show figures in typical dance movements. Hunters as shown leaping and posing after the release f the spear or arrow. These actions are still used today in the ritual dances of primitive tribes to bring success in the hunt. Early man no doubt learned many of his dance movements and patterns from the birds and animals around him. Many birds, such as the cranes, go through courtship rituals that are very-much like simple primitive dance patterns. More intelligent creatures, such as the chimpanzee, have been known to jump, stamp, and turn in dancelike rhythms. In study in the arts of primitive peoples, researchers have found that dance culture usually reflects the animal life that the people live with and use. The Origin of Dance Forms In studying the history and development of dance, one must begin with the dances of primitive man. Technically, the first dance form of any people is known as primitive dance. It marks the first stage in the groupâ€™s progress toward civilization. There are at least three man divisions of the primitive dance. Magic or religious dances are performed to worship a god, to initiate a priest, to bring good crops and success at hunting and fishing, or to cure sickness. Medicine en or priests who have been trained from childhood usually direct this type of dancing. Dances with social or tribal purpose are performed at the birth of a child, at the initiation of boys and girls into adult tribal life, at marriages, at secret-society initiations and ceremonies, and when war threatens or s in progress. Play, or recreational, dances ate done for sheer pleasure in physical movement or to show off the performerâ€™s athletic skill and endurance.
1 Re-arranged by Thummachuk Prompuay Department of Performing Arts, Faculty of Fine & Applied Arts Ramkhamhaeng University, Bangkok, THAILAND
The basic steps of most primitive dances are similar. There are wide, expansive movements for the men and small, dainty, close-to-earth steps for the women. Tribal dances sometimes appear wild and unpatterned. Actually, they have rigid rules. Among some tribes a dancerâ€™s mistake is punished by death. In many tribal dances men, women, and children may all participate at some point. Dancing serves to keep the tribe solidly united. The development of other forms As a people advances from a primitive state to civilization, its dancing may change in several ways. The dancing of a racial group may develop into an art form. The entire group no longer takes part. There are performers and watchers. The performers go through rigid training. The watchers understand the religious, artistic, and social meaning of every movement of the dance. This is the ethnic dance, an art expression of a racial group. Almost all the dancing of the Orient with which Westerners are familiar is of this type. Only a well-developed culture with a continuous history produces it. The livelier phases of primitive dancing may develop into the folk dance of the common people. This type exists for the pleasure of the dancers, not for the enjoyment of the audience. Side by side with the appears the social dance of the upper classes. This form of dance arises out of the social ceremonies of progressing civilizations, with roots going back to primitive rituals. It has developed into highly individual and extremely adaptable from the dance. It is used for recreational, artistic, and entertainment purposes. As civilization has been come more complex and democratic, the folk element has tended to disappear from recreational dancing. Theatrical dance is the farthest away from the primitive in development. Other names for it are spectacular and stage dance. It may use elements of primitive, ethnic, folk, or social dancing. It is created by individual artists, however, and is not the expression of race or community. Such different types as tap dancing belong to this category.
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In Ancient Egypt When the ancient Egyptians first carved ideographs they used a picture of a man dancing to represent joy or happiness. Dancing played an important part in the lives of these people. The dancers were priests or slaves in the temples or in the homes of the gods, and at births, marriages, funerals, and all royal functions. The dancing figures in ancient carving look strangely flattened and stiff. In all probability, the ancient dances themselves were not like that at all. Priests performed some ritual dances without spectators. One of these was a â€œdance of stars.â€? An altar represented the sun. The dancers, turning rhythmically from east to west around it, represented the constellations, the signs of the zodiac, and the planets and symbolized the harmony of the universe. The people took part in religious procession. Dancers were painted on the walls of tomb to entertain the soul of the person who had died. Clapping hands, snapping fingers, and knocking clappers were the first accompaniments to the dance. Later, musical instruments were used. Some were similar to the guitar, tambourine, lyre, flute, harp, and cymbals. Dancer often wore bells on their finders. In wealthy homes slaves dances for the entertainment of the master and his guests. During religious festivals and celebrations, temple slaves and personal slaves with special talents as dancers, acrobatics, and mimes entertained crowds in the public squares of villages and towns. Some historians of the dance believe that many step and positions of the modern ballet, such as the pirouette, entrechat, Arabesque, and Jete, originated in ancient Egypt. Dancing of the Classic Age in Greece Knowledge of the steps and movement in the Greek dance comes from frescoes, reliefs, and vase paintings. These suggest a natural, flowing, expressive form of movement. The ancient festival dances were development of primitive dancing. There were rites in the spring to insure fertility in corps and animals. Fall festivals celebrated the harvest. Especially arranged dances marked great events. Various gods had their special 3 Re-arranged by Thummachuk Prompuay Department of Performing Arts, Faculty of Fine & Applied Arts Ramkhamhaeng University, Bangkok, THAILAND
cults which involved dancing. In Sparta men danced in armor to increase their agility in war. The Chorus of the ancient Greek drama dances also. Their dancing is thought to have been processional, accompanied by rhythmic movements of the body, especially the hands and arms. Choral dances in the tragedies had religious meaning. They were ethnic. The dances in the comedies, however, were purely for entertainment. They were satirical and lively. In ancient Rome Ancient Rome borrowed most of its drama, first from the Ethruscans and later from the Greeks. There were a few native ritualistic dances, however. Those of the salii, or dancing priests, were performed by young men of noble families. They marched through the streets n battle dress. Each carried a sacred shield on his left arm and a staff in his right hand. At altars and temples they danced a war dance, beating their shields with their staffs and chanting a hymn. The lupercalia, a fertility dance, honored Faunus (Pan). Under the Roman Empire the country people continued to dance at festivals in honor of the gods. The upper-class Ramon citizens did not dance themselves, however. They demanded professional entertainment, Theatrical dances became popular â€“ in the streets for voluntary offerings, in the circus and arena, and at private parties. These performers came from the ranks of Greek slaves in Rome and slaves from other lands, chiefly Spain. The art of pantomime was developed by dancers who performed I the great arenas, to express emotion and actions. They learned to move and gesture so as to be seen and understood by the crowds far away. Under Nero and his successors dancing became more and more degraded and immoral. When the Christian church gained control in ancient Rome, it banned theatrical dancing.
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In the Early Christian Church The Roman Christian church helped keep dancing alive by using it as part of the ritual of worship. The theory is that the Church Fathers sensed the people’s need for dancing, which had been an essential element in pagan religious services, and made it a part f Christian ceremonies. It was very reserved and serious, but still was dancing. The mass took on a kind of rhythmic pattern accompanied by music and song, and mystical dances were performed. In the 7th century church dances were forbidden, but they lingered in places for a long time. I the cathedral of Seville, Spain, religious dances are still performed on special occasions. Dance in the Middle Ages The commonly known forms of dance in the Western World today developed during the Middle Ages. The dances of ancient times were not forgotten but were changed to fit the timed. An old fertility dances became the Maypole dance. Out of the ceremonies of court life, court dances appeared. Folk dancing flourished in the Middle Ages. One of these was the carole (forerunner of our modern carols) – a round, or circular, dance usually accompanied by singing. Dance Madness Strange kinds of dance hysteria were reported to have flourished in the Middle Ages. In the 11th and 12th centuries there were occasions after a death or at Christian festival when people danced insanely in the churchyard, despite pleas by the priests that they stop. This was the danse macabre (from the Arabic word makabor, meaning “churchyards). It is thought to have been a frenzied effort to communicate with the dead. (The “dance of death” of morality plays is also know as “danse macabre.”)
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History of Church Plays During the Middle ages the entertainment within the church gradually came to include mystery, miracle, and morality plays. These plays became elaborate, with the large casts and dramatic scenic effects. The dancers depicted the devil, Salome, and other characters and the vices and follies of human nature. At first, the performances took place before the church altar. As the number of characters increased, the plays were moved to transept and nave. Eventually the cast and audience became so large church could not hold hem. The players began performing on the church steps, and the audiences watched from the churchyard. The first players and dancers were the clergy. As the casts grew larger the common people were given parts. Finally the drama passed out of the hands of the church into the hands of people. Theatrical dancing was again on its way to becoming an approved public entertainment. Dance in the Orient Oriental dance is different from the dance forms of the Western World. Every movement conveys a traditional meaning to members on Oriental audience. Westerners may admire the grace and beauty of the movements but they miss the meaning. One reason of this is that in Oriental dances the movements of the head, arms, and hands are more important than the footwork. The Westernerâ€™s idea that dancing is a matter of jumps and other vigorous movements must be changed before the true significance of the Eastern dance can be fully understood. In India Indian legend has that the gods themselves invented the dance. Thus, as in most other Eastern cultures, the dance, religion, and philosophy are united, The proper occasions for dancing in India are festivals, celebrations, religious processions, marriages, reunion of friends, the first occupation of towns or houses, the birth of children, and similar events. 6 Re-arranged by Thummachuk Prompuay Department of Performing Arts, Faculty of Fine & Applied Arts Ramkhamhaeng University, Bangkok, THAILAND
Indian dances may be divided into three main classifications. Theses are nrtta, rhythmic dancing without the story; nrtya, dramatic dancing with the narrative or descriptive theme; and natya, acting. The dance forms vary somewhat from north to south. One characteristic common to all Indian dancing, however, is the use of gestures with related body postures and head movements. The use of the fingers, hands, and eyes is of first importance. There are almost a thousand specific hand movements and signs (mudra). Little bells are worn about the ankles. There are four major schools of the Indian dance. Bharata Natyam and Khatakali are found in the south, and Kathak and Manipuri are danced in the north. The Bharata Natyam is the most important of the dance forms in India today. The dancers are usually women. The also dancer performs a great variety of bodily movements which are accompanied by rhythms stamped out by her feet. Kathakali (which means recited action) is found in the Malabar area, along the West Coast of southern India. The performers are all men, in contrast to the Bharata Natyam. The dance itself is extremely forceful, almost violent. The stamps of the dancersâ€™ feet are accompanied by loud drums, which play continuously throughout the performance. The Khatak of the northern India reflects the influence of the Mohammedans who conquered the area centuries ago. The dance, performed by men or women, is based on the rhythmic patterns of the dancersâ€™ feet slapping the floor. A drummer and singers accompanied the performance. The forth school, Manipuri, is found in the state of Assum, Indiaâ€™s most northeastern province on the border of Burma. The inhabitants of this region created a graceful, swaying dance style. This contrasts with other Indian forms, which are vigorous, angular, and sometimes cold.
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Japanese Dance Drama Dancing in Japan was a traditional, continuously developed art form until the period of World War II. Its best-know phases were the no dance, the kabuki, and the dancing of the geisha girls. The geisha dancer of Japan was famous for hundreds of years as an entertainer. No and Kabuki are dance dramas in which the performers use a combination of pantomime and dance. The no developed in the imperial court. Its pace is slow and majestic. There are no high leaps, as in Western dancing. One foot is kept flat on the floor most of the time. When the foot is lifted it is bend upward. Each movement of the head, body, arms, and leg has a traditional meaning. The kabuki is a more modern and lively version of the no. In China Dancing was is cultivated art in China thousands of years ago. Magnificent ballets were performed at the Chinese court. A cult of gymnasts called Cong Fou taught health and philosophy through dancing. Dancing was also an important part of religion. The art declined through the ages. Today dance is found mostly in the Chinese opera. Mei Lan-fang was the greatest actor and dancer in China. He reintroduced and reconstructed many of the ancient dances for the opera. An old folk dance northwest China, called the yangko, was adopted by the Chinese Communists during their stay in that region. It has became the national dance of Communist China. It is performed by villagers in every corner of the country. In Indonesia The Indonesian dances are rich and varied. The most famous are those of tiny island of Bali. All people, young and old, rich and poor, common and noble, dance in Bali. The dance in this Asian Island is unusual in that it is creative. The people eagerly adapt new styles and ideas and perform their interpretations until they are tired of them. In recent years groups of Balinese dancers have toured other nations with great success. 8 Re-arranged by Thummachuk Prompuay Department of Performing Arts, Faculty of Fine & Applied Arts Ramkhamhaeng University, Bangkok, THAILAND
Ballet Ballet is a special form of theatrical dancing. It has its own technique, which takes years of training to master. The dance, together with the music, the stage decorations and the costumes, is used to tell a story or to express an idea or emotion. The arrangement of the steps and patterns of the dance is called choreography. The creator of the choreography is known as the choreographer. Ballet has its roots in dances of ancient civilizations. As a recognized system of dance, however, it originated in the court of France. In 1581 Catherine deâ€™ Medici, then the Queen mother, commissioned a dance spectacle in honor of the betrothal of her sister, Marguerite of Lorraine. Called â€˜Le Ballet Comique de le Reineâ€™, it is generally considered the first ballet. Other ballets soon followed. The dancers, except for a new professional, were members of the court. The king himself took part. The performers used the popular social dances of the day and wore the dress fashionable at the time regard to the characters they played. Louis XIV, a fine dancer himself established the Royal Academy of Dancing in 1661. One of his chief collaborators was Jean Baptiste Lully, a court musician and the first composer of ballet music. An other was Pierre Beauchamp, a musician and court dancer, who first listed the ballet techniques, including the five positions of the feet. The other courts of Europe soon adopt ballet. Late in the 17th century ballet moved from the royal courts to the theaters. Professional dancers took over the stage, and anyone with the price of admission could attend. Before 1681 there were no women ballet dancers on the public stage. Men dance all feminine roles. The first notable women dancer was Marie Anne de Cupis de Camargo, who danced from 1726-1751. One of the most important figures in the history of ballet was Jean Gorges Noverre. He was a French dancer and choreographer who fought for high artistic principles. His ideas of dramatic action and naturalness have become an inspiration to all artists in ballet. 9 Re-arranged by Thummachuk Prompuay Department of Performing Arts, Faculty of Fine & Applied Arts Ramkhamhaeng University, Bangkok, THAILAND
The center of artistic development in ballet moved from France to Italy during the French Revolution. By this time ballet was an attraction in al the great European capitals. The Golden Age of Ballet Ballet flourished in the romantic era of the 19th century, particularly between 1830 and 1850. Women dancers were idealized. At this time they learned to dance on the tip o their toes, the better to express the supernatural quality of the characters they portrayed. The great ballerinas of the day were Maria Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, and Fanny Cerito, of Italy; Fanny Elssler, of Vienna; and Lucile Grahn, of Copenhagen. The czarist court had for many years encouraged ballet in Russia. There had been a Imperial School of Ballet in St. Petersburg since 1728. A frenchman, Marius Petipa, went to St. Petersburg in 1847 as a dancer. He remained for almost 50 years as choreographer for the Imperial Theater. With the help of Christian Johansen, a Dane, and Enrico Cecchetti, an Italian, he made Russian Ballet great. This period produced the classical ballet. The most famous examples are “Swan Lake” and “Sleeping Beauty”, with music by Peter Tchaikovsky. The Age of Reform Ballet in Russia as well as in other nations has lost its vitality by the end of the 19th century. In most ballets the music was just an accompaniment to supply the right rhythm Choreographer had become routine and lacked expressiveness. Early in the 20th century a great reformer, Michel Fokine, appeared. He had graduated from the Imperial School o Ballet at St. Petersburg in 1898. His aim was to receive the expressiveness of dancing while keeping the basic technical abilities made possible by ballet training. Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev, a man eager to bring Russian culture to the attention of the world sympathized with Fokine’s ideas. With Fokine as choreographer, he introduced a revitalized Russian ballet to Paris in 1909 and to London in 1911. The Diaghilev Company became one of the leading artistic forces of the early 20th century. The company became independent of the Imperial School in 1911 and for 18 years its toured 10 Re-arranged by Thummachuk Prompuay Department of Performing Arts, Faculty of Fine & Applied Arts Ramkhamhaeng University, Bangkok, THAILAND
Europe and the Americas. This group as well as the company of Anna Pavlova, which was smaller but traveled much farther, became the inspiration for the revival of ballet in the Western World.
11 Re-arranged by Thummachuk Prompuay Department of Performing Arts, Faculty of Fine & Applied Arts Ramkhamhaeng University, Bangkok, THAILAND