Portal:Dance

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Dance (from Old French dancier, perhaps from Frankish) generally refers to human movement either used as a form of expression or presented in a social, spiritual or performance setting.

Dance also is used to describe methods of non-verbal communication (see body language) between humans or animals (bee dance, mating dance), motion in inanimate objects (the leaves danced in the wind), and certain genres.

Choreography is the art of making dances.

Definitions of what constitutes dance are dependent on social, cultural, aesthetic, artistic and moral constraints and range from functional movement (such as folk dance) to codified, virtuoso techniques such as ballet. Dance disciplines exist in sports such as gymnastics, figure skating, and synchronized swimming, and martial arts kata are often compared to dance.

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Dancing in a juke joint outside Clarksdale, Mississippi; November 1939.
The Lindy Hop is an African American dance, based on the popular Charleston and named for Charles Lindbergh's Atlantic crossing in 1927. It evolved in New York City in the 1920s and '30s and originally evolved with the jazz music of that time. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston. It is frequently described as a jazz dance and is a member of the swing dance family.

Lindy Hop entered mainstream American culture in the 1930s, gaining popularity through multiple sources. Dance troupes, including the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers (also known as the Harlem Congaroos), Hot Chocolates and Big Apple Dancers exhibited the Lindy Hop. Hollywood films, such as Hellzapoppin' and A Day at the Races began featuring the Lindy Hop in dance sequences. Dance studios such as those of Arthur Murray and Irene and Vernon Castle began teaching Lindy Hop.

Social lindy hop dancing (social meaning unchoreographed) varies in each city and country, with each local scene having its own unique dance etiquette and social conventions. Generally, lindy hop is danced by a lead and follow partnership, with the lead most frequently being a man, and the follow being a woman. Social lindy hop not only involves partners dancing unchoreographed dances, but also a range of other traditions and activities. Jam circles, are a tradition dating back to the 1930s and earlier in African American vernacular dance culture, and have much in common with musical cutting contests in jazz. Malcolm X describes 'jam circles' in his autobiography as a loose circle forming around a couple or individual whose dancing was so impressive it captured the attention of dancers around them, who would stop and watch, cheering and clapping. This tradition continues in most lindy hop communities today, with other couples interrupting, joining, or replacing the original couple in the cleared 'circle'. Dancers usually leave or enter at the end of a musical phrase. Lindy Hop today is danced as a social dance, as a competitive dance, as a performance dance, and in classes, workshops, and camps.

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Credit: Jane Avril by Toulouse-Lautrec

The can-can (also spelled cancan, Can Can) is regarded today primarily as a music hall dance, performed by a chorus line of female dancers who wear costumes with long skirts, petticoats, and black stockings, harking back to the fashions of the 1890s. The main features of the dance are the lifting up and manipulation of the skirts, with high kicking and suggestive, provocative body movements.

Did you know

Stella Bloch

... that Stella Bloch (pictured) headlined in New York after she returned from learning Javanese dancing at the Prince of Solo's palace?

... that Rosina Galli was the prima ballerina at La Scala Theatre Ballet before she became the première danseuse at the Metropolitan Opera House?

... that LeRoy Prinz, who staged dances in dozens of Hollywood movies in the 1930s and 1940s, was more an "idea man" than a choreographer, using simple steps and dance routines?

... that Tatjana Gsovsky, ballet mistress at opera houses in East Berlin, Buenos Aires and West Berlin, first choreographed ballets by Henze and Nono?

...that the score of Giselle contains additions by Léon Minkus?

... that in 2008, the Romanian ballet mistress Mijaela Tesleoanu was one of only two non-Cubans on the payroll of the Cuban National Ballet?

Selected biography

Photo of Emma Livry, c. 1860
Emma Livry (September 24, 1842 – July 26, 1863) was one of the last ballerinas of the Romantic ballet era, and a protégée of Marie Taglioni. She perished from burn injuries when her costume caught fire during a performance rehearsal.

Emma studied dancing while young and attended the Paris Opera School. She made her debut at age sixteen with the Paris Opera as the sylph in La Sylphide. Her talent brought her fame and she became a widely respected ballerina.

Marie Taglioni noticed her during one of her performances and immediately took a liking to the girl, becoming her mentor. Marie choreographed for Emma in the ballet Le Papillon, a piece by Jacques Offenbach that was especially created just for Emma.

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir

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Lautrec la troupe de mlle eglantine (poster) 1895-6

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