From the dawn of human civilization, dance remained in close connection to us as a mean of social interaction, expression, nonverbal communication, and an integral part of various religious and ceremony rituals. Since its first appearance in the records of history, some 9 thousand years ago, dance managed to evolve into countless styles that are practiced today. Ancient Egyptians used dance as a means to celebrate their gods, entertain high class of nobility and as a big part of common people celebration during harvest festivals. Greeks and Romans continued with that tradition, but regarded dance as a gift from the gods which were celebrated by annual celebrations that involved drinking and dancing. This kind of connection between dance and religion can found in every modern religion, but it can best be perceived in Hinduism, which is based on a belief that entire universe was created by the dance of Supreme Dancer Nataraja. Every of their 23 gods have distinct style of dance, and this love of dance has spilled over every facet of life in India (most visibly seen in their very productive film making industry, that features dance and singing in every movie).
Modern ballroom dance began in 15th century Italy. Rise of technology, trade, and wealth that brought in era of Renaissance, which quickly spread across entire Europe. The largest amount of innovation in music, dance styles and acceptance of dance as an important social and health tool happened during the reign of English Queen Elizabeth (1533 – 1603). During that time, many European dance masters came to England to create new dances for Royal Court and the rest of nobility. While dance and music prospered in London, first dance manuals started circulating over the land, educating entire population how to dance many complicated routines that were popular in those times. Some of the most popular dances of that time were Galliard, Almain, Volt, Gavotte, and Ballet.
With each passing century, new styles of music and dance came and went away. One of the most famous modern dances, the waltz, was introduced in the 17th century and was greatly popularized after creation of Johann Strauss II magnificent waltz music. Another early example of dance that swept over the world was Polka, which went around the world around 1850 and created a wide variety of similar energetic and fast dance styles.
Many modern dance styles that we know today were introduced between 1920s and 1970s. Starting with the prohibition era USA and the rise of Hollywood, Charleston and Tap-dancing became worldwide phenomenons, and since then African-American and Latin music and dance styles found their footing among old ballroom dances. Some of the most notable dances that are practiced today by dancers of all skills are Waltz, Polka, Samba, Rumba, Mambo, Tango, Swing, Salsa, and Flamenco, among others.
As the dancing became more popular and popular, medical community started recommending dances as a solution to many illnesses or as a mean to reinforce dancer’s physique, social skills or other disability. As with any other physical exercise that involves movement of entire body, dancing can bring benefits for cardiovascular system, improve balance, flexibility of body, coordination, orientation, peripheral vision, motor function, expand capacity of lungs, remove fat, tone your body to slim shape, reduce chances of osteoporosis, mental functioning, and reduce stress.
However, professional dance can produce vmany medical dangers. Long training periods, competitive environment, large strain on the body, non-regulated diets and testing the limits of human body can sometimes produce large health risks. In modern environment, over 80% of high level professional dancers receive at least one injury that can potentially end their career, and those injuries most often force them to become dance teachers.
Professional dance first began with the introduction of ballet in 17th century. From the moment when first professional ballet company was formed by the order of the French king Louis XIV in 1661, ballet and other dances became focus of many generations of dance masters. Audiences all around world honored their efforts, and continuous refinement of their skill enabled them to pass through several phases of ballet history – Classical Ballet, Neoclassical ballet and Contemporary ballet. Emergence of Contemporary Dance in early 20th century even more showcased the dedication and skill of dancers who strived to push their bodies to the brinks of their abilities and test the limitation of human form and expression.
Today, dance is practiced in every corner of the world – by people all social classes, ages and religions. Even people in wheelchairs have the chance to socialize with one another by dancing their own dance choreographies. Judging by the history of our civilization, dance will not only remain at our side, but it will continue to morph into countless other styles and variations that will enjoyed and practiced by the countless generations that are to come.