History of Dance

Most human societies have their own dances and never failed to indulge in them because of the pleasure it gives. The first purpose of dances were most likely ritualistic, appeasing spirits or as a rite of passage. It also comes as no surprise that the development of dance came with music.

Rhythm, an integral part of dancing, is also a vital part of music. It is often natural to perform rhythmic movements with the beating of sticks or chanting.


In several ancient cultures, rhythm and dance are a vital element to god worship and temple rituals. Ancient Egyptian priestesses and priests perform dances while pipes and harps played. These movements imitate significant moments of a god’s story or life, or mimic cosmic patterns such changing of day into night or vice-versa.

Ancient Egyptian women also danced to express the grief felt by mourners during funerals.

Sacred and significant events that transpire in Greek shrines also use dance as a form of worship. Temple virgins inaugurate the games held at Olympia. The choros, an ancient dance, was performed to honour a god.

In India, the formal hand movements and facial expressions of priestesses depict various emotions and significant actions of the gods they worship.

Dance also had a use in healing rituals for ancient civilizations. Cultures in the Brazilian rainforest and the Kalahari Desert performed trance-like ecstatic dances as an act of healing. Medieval European cultures also believed that the danses macabres protected dancers from disease.


Moods heighten with the free flow of alcohol and the pounding rhythm of drums or other instruments. The infamous Dionysiac dances of ancient Greece are known for their raucous dancing parties. The frenzied movements and stomping, honour Dionysus, the god of wine.

Not all acts are extreme in nature; some dances offered the same kind of mood release and excitement without the craziness.


Ancient societies also use dance as a form of entertainment. It takes on many forms from ballet to court dances to its current state today.

People watch dances to entertain themselves and have a good time whether they are the ones dancing or watching others do it.

Dance is an integral part of culture, whether as a ritual for worship or healing, or as entertainment. Whether you are from a Western or Eastern country, the enticing and rhythmic movements often performed with music are signs of a rich culture that values traditions or just plain fun.

Dance programs at day camp can help your child be more creative and push for better cognitive development. Find out more about different dance and performing arts programs at day camps such as Zodiac Camp.


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