Intro to Dance, history

  • 40,000 BCE

    Paleolithic Period

    Typically, when applying to dance, this mainly include indigenous dances. This occurred from the beginning of mankind where there is little records of dance, and what evidence we do have, there is still much interpretation. The ending of this period was around ten thousand to forty thousand years ago. Dances could be social or ritual, honoring their cultural gods and ways of life. Indigenous peoples pass stories down through oral tradition, some still continue this and their dances today.
  • 10,000 BCE

    Neolithic Period

    It started around the time of the end of the stone age, developments in technology defined the era. Records during this time in terms of dance are still very slim. Depictions of dance were still sacred and not much development into the dance we know today. Agriculture thrived and many advancements to farming were centered upon. The use of metal tools ended the era.
  • 1000 BCE

    Islamic Golden Age

    Belly dance- some claim the origins are from 1000 BCE or from Egyptian social dances. Others debate the origins from India and migrated through the Middle East. There is evidence from use for fertility rituals and core strengthening to prepare for labor.
    -WAS NOT used as a sexual dance for men
  • 500 BCE

    Ancient Greece

    Almost two centuries, laying the foundation for the Greeks, from approximately 500-300 BCE. Dance, poetry, education were part of daily life. Dance was ritualistic, used for festivals, fertility, prepare for war, and to celebrate and cure illnesses
  • 500 BCE

    Grecian Dance

    Satyr plays- ancient form of tragic comedy, contained chorus, satyrs, Greek mythology, drunkeness, sexuality pranks, gags, and merriment.
    Dionysus- God of fertility and wine, patron of the arts, brought joy and ectasy, or brutal and blinding rage
    Apollo- God of healing, medicine, archery, music, poetry, and the sun, leader of the Muses, prophecy
    Terpsichore- One of the nine Muses, of dance and chorus
  • 500 BCE

    Grecian Dance, folk dances

    Participatory dances, linked together by hands or arms, could be coed or separated by gender, if coed, they had handkerchiefs between them. Could contain two circles, one for men on the outside and women in an inner circle. Normally comprised of set steps, but lead line dancer could improvise.
  • 500 BCE

    Grecian Dance, Apollonian dances

    Dances were ceremonial, more incorporated, slower, cult dances performed during religious festivals and for marital and social dances during communal events and funeral practices.
  • 27 BCE

    Golden Age of Rome

    27 BCE-180 CE, when Augustus came into power, economy, arts, architecture and commerce flourished. Society of spectators, dramatic presentations were set/choreographed as well as loosely improvised, these were usually slaves. Early dances were associated with religious rites, mostly performed by priest/religious leader.
  • 27 BCE

    Roman Dance

    Roman circus- where slaves fought each other to the death, hand to hand combat, chariot racing, sea battles, fought animals, sometimes up to 5,000 animals
    Scabellum- instruments that accompanied pantomime, loud percussive, operated by foot
    Sistra- instruments that companied pantomime, castanets, panpipes, cymbals
    Pantomime- 55 BCE, the Roman Empire was vast with many different cultures, pantomime translated what could not be spoken, comprised of one performer, wore a mask with the mouth closed.
  • 27 BCE

    Roman Dance, cont.

    Proscenium- Located in front of the stage that frames the action of the play, square or arched, contains curtain behind
    Mime- circus performers that weren't originally mute, acted with animals, jugglers, performing at festivals, in the streets, at dinner parties, and on formal stages
    Arch mime- at a funeral including a pantomime, deceased sat upright on chair, accompanied by flute players and singers, arch mime in front of procession, performing the deceased life story.
    Pyrrhic Dance- war dance
  • Period: 500 to Jan 1, 1400

    Medival Period

    Islamic golden age- advancements in agriculture, arts, economics, industry, law, literature, navigation, philosophy, sciences, sociology, technology
    -Poets and scientists wrote thousands of books, translated documents from the West, invented things like the pinhole camera, soap, windmills, surgical instruments, system of numerals
    -Created algebra, advances in geometry, calculus, astronomy, anatomy, and the scientific method
  • Period: 500 to Jan 1, 1000

    Dark/Middle Ages

    European countries experienced a darker period during the Islamic Enlightenment, Dark Ages coined by Petrarch who lived during the Renaissance and felt the previous period was dark, cruel, bloody and non artistic
    -little recorded information
    -Black plague, killing 1/3 of the population of Europe
    -artistic ideas in visual, performing, and outward beauty were heavily influenced by the Catholic church
    -Most ideas created were frowned upon unless it was revolved around the church, "glorifying"
  • Period: 500 to Jan 1, 1000

    Medieval Period, dances

    Secular dances, line dances- Farandole: lively chain dance, linking hands and following leader through the streets, pipes and tabor accompanied
    Circle dances, carols and rounds: festive Christmas song today, Medieval carol was a danced song which the musician would sing the verses with onlookers/dancers answering the refrain
    Branle: Early 16th century circle dance performed by couples
    Religious dances. Pagan: Labyrinth dances, ring dances.
  • Jan 1, 1000

    Medieval Period, dances cont'd

    Religious dances. Christian dances: Los seises, associated with Christian worship. performed by choir boys who danced in the Cathedral of Seville, Spain on church holidays
    Dance of Death/Macabre: Dark Ages was obsessed with death, Danse Macabre was a medieval allegory of the universality of death. No matter who we were or where we were in life, death equaled everyone. This consisted of members of all walks of life to dance along the persons grave, reminded the living of their lives & the vanity
  • Jul 1, 1374


    Thousands of groups of people dancing in hysteria, uncontrollably, claiming visions while foaming at the mouth. Dance continued until one collapsed of exhaustion. Some flailed in agony until restrained.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1400 to

    Renaissance Period, Florence Italy

    A lot of financial flow and economic wealth was going in and our of Florence, the art world benefitted greatly. Changes in interest was going back to Ancient Culture, art wasn't really group oriented anymore, and more of an individual venture. Some artists included Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael.
  • Jan 1, 1500

    Renaissance Period, court dances

    Sarabande- Originated in Central America, travelled through Spain into European countries, there seems to be a lot of balance's and ronde jambe movements
    allemande- German dance that transferred over into French courts, much slower, regal dance
    minuet-slow stately ballroom dance performed in triple time, pavane- An opening to grand balls, demonstrating one's dress/costume, travelled through Spain into Italy, France and England
  • Jan 1, 1518

    Dance Mania, Strausburg

    Dancers would fill in the streets around the clock along with musicians Causes included theories of a spider bite, mass hysteria from the Black Plague, ergot poisoning from moldy bread (similar to LSD)
  • Period: Apr 13, 1519 to

    Catherine de Medici

    Catherine de Medici, Florence Italy 1519, married King Henry II at the age of 14. Later on her three sons Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III would also take over the throne
  • 1547

    Court Festivals

    A series of lavish entertaining, "magnificence's", showing the French people and foreign courts that the Valois monarchy was the most prestigious reign since Francis I ruling and Henry II reign. This included martial sports, tournaments and dancing to distract from war and feuding.
  • 1573

    Ballet de cour

    Name of the ballets performed in the 16th and 17th centuries that derived from the court festivals. Social dances were performed by nobility with music, speech, verse, etc. Ranged from satire, melodrama, allegory, and burlesque. Generally revolved around ancient history, myth, chivalric romance, contemporary fiction
    -Ballet des Polonais considered the first true court ballet, performed at the election of her second son Henry III King of Poland.
  • Jan 1, 1581

    Ballet La Comique de La Reine

    First ballet commissioned by Catherine de Medici, conceived and directed by Balthazar de Beaujoyeulx, it was also published in 1582, it was with Catherine and her ladies in waiting, Circe was against the King of France, Mercury, Pan, Minerva and Jupiter from Greek and Roman mythology is also involved, trying to overthrow Circe. Only the King of France in the end vanquished over her.
  • Period: to

    Jean-Baptiste de Lully

    He was a French composer of Italian birth, worked closely with King Louis XIV, Director of the Academic Royale de Musique in Paris, contributed to many operas, dramas, and ballets. Ballet de la Nuit, Le Marriage force were just some of his notable works. Unfortunate death of gangrene in his foot
  • Period: to

    Pierre Beauchamp

    Personal Ballet Master to King Louis XIV, choreographed many ballets that were performed at Versailles, created the ballet positions
  • Period: to

    King Louis XIV

    He became the king of France at the age of four, his regent being his mother and heavily influenced and guided by Cardinal Mazarin, King Louis chose the sun as his symbol, he loved music as well as Ballet.
  • Academie d'Opera, Paris Opera

    Academie d'Opera, soon a ballet company would become housed within the opera company.
    Soon the dance company would be later known as Paris Opera Ballet company, oldest ballet company in the world
  • Peter the Great, Peter I

    Decided that Russia needed to progress further to become powerful. Helped to establish a navy (1696) by forming alliances, exposure to making allies he realized that Russia was behind in progress. Also changed the Russian calendar to the Julian calendar, attempted to eliminate arranged marriages, simplified the Russian alphabet, created a newspaper, as well as helping more people become educated. The courtiers engaged in Western forms of dance, especially ballet.
  • Period: to

    Francoise Prevost

    Helped establish dramatic dance in the classical era, debuted in the Paris Opera in 1699. Short excerpt from Les Horaces was pantomimed by Prevost, it was so incredibly expressive, it was said that the audience wept. Later on became a teacher to Marie Camargo and Marie Salle, with the former bringing jealously in Prevost's eyes.
  • Academie Royal de Danse

    Considered the first ballet school, opportunities were for those who wished to learn more complicated dance steps, anyone welcome at the court that is
  • Opera ballet

    form of dance that relates to ballet a entree, consisting of detachable scenes joining a common theme, with singing, dancing, and stage effects when using a theatre stage. Reached a height with composer Jean Phillippe Rameau, with his introductory Hippolyte et Aricie, to the wider known Les Indes Galantes in 1735 which examined foreign lands with a love story taking place in a different country of the world.
  • Categories of dance styles

    danse noble- highest and most noble form of dance, a hero most likely
    Demi-caractere- dancer would have to be livelier and extroverted, technically agile, more everyday people characters, even lesser gods
    Comique- comic or rustic roles, ranging from rough in manner to charming
  • Period: to

    Marie de Camargo

    Known for her work with the Paris Opera, her teacher was Prevost feared her talent as a ballet dancer. She could not be hidden in the shadows, she famously took place of a male dancers missed cue. She was able to complete the male technique, at the time, with flawless ease. Years later she was able to adjust the women's dance costume to have a natural ease to dance in.
  • Period: to

    Jean George Noverre

    French choreographer, was a ballet master in Versailles then continued to London with the fall of Versailles. He created about 100 dances, included in his works is Lettres sur la dance et sur les ballets in 1760, Letters on Dancing and Ballet, a testimony of his view of ballet.
  • Anna Ivanova

    Niece of Peter the Great, ruled over Russia in 1730 after Peter II, came to rule by Senate voting to manipulate her, but they couldn't. Under her rule, she commissioned the Imperial Ballet School, led by Jean Baptiste Lane.
  • Imperial Ballet School

    In the winter of 1738, ballet classes began in St Petersburg, led by Jean Baptiste Lande who came from Sweden and Denmark. The attached Ballet company was called the Imperial Ballet, then Soviet Ballet, Kirov Ballet, and is now the Mariinsky Ballet.
  • Taglioni family

    Filippo Taglioni, grew up training in dance and debuted with the Paris Opera at age 22 later switching to the Royal Swedish Ballet in Stockholm. Married Sophie Karsten, daughter of a Swedish opera singer and had two children Marie Taglioni and Paul Taglioni. 5 Nov 1777 to 11 Feb 1871
    Marie Taglioni, daughter of Filippo, credited with being the first ballerina to dance on pointe. Her father Filippo created the ballet La Sylphide for her, unfortunately his choreography doesn't withstand today.
  • August Bournonville

    21 August 1805 to 30 November 1879, his trained under Jean George Noverre as well as the Royal Danish Ballet. He eventually became choreographer for the RDB, creating more than 50 ballets. A ballet school training in his style exists today. His best known creations include La Sylphide, Napoli, A Folk Tale
  • Period: to

    Marius Petipa

    He choreographed famous ballets we know today, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, La Bayadere, and Coppelia. Was a ballet dancer from the age of nine, he joined the Imperial Ballet in 1847 as principal dancer and Ballet master. His ballets were known for their corps ballets, and the lead ballerina center stage.
  • Period: to

    Romantic Ballet

    Romantic ballet was part of the Romanticism, during the late 1700s in Europe to the height in 1800 to 1850, it was against the aristocracy, political climate and norms that the Age of Enlightenment brought.
    Drew upon emotions of horror, terror, awe, and the supernatural.
  • Romantic Ballet, costuming

    Romantic tutu- shorter than previous costumes, mid-calf, mostly white. This let women dancers to have larger range in movement to perform more complicated movements. The general consensus of white costuming was for an otherworldly look for the women characters, for a ghostly appearance
    Pointe shoes- Before the Romantic period, pointe shoes were less used for a performance and more for complicated tricks. The pointe shoe work today was developed during the Romantic period, starting with Taglioni
  • La Sylphide

    First choreographed by Filippo Taglioni for his daughter in 1832, this showcased the improvements of pointe shoe work. His choreography did not make it, the 1836 performance of La Sylphide by August Bournonville is one of the oldest surviving ballets today. It's premise revolves around the love an air sylph has for a young man who is to be wed to another lady. She captivates him, with the unfortunate involvement of a witch. By the end, both the sylph and young man suffer the fate of the witch.
  • Cult of the Ballerina

    The worship of the women dancers of the Romantic era. Women were more populous during this time period, audiences even had favorites they would flock to see at the ballet.
  • Pas de Quatre

    A ballet showcasing Marie Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Lucille Grahn, and Fanny Cerrito in the epitome of their careers. Excerpts were based on the individual ballerina's strengths. Choreographed by Perrot, even Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were apart of the audience of four total performances.
  • Swan Lake

    Swan Lake, ballet story of Odette, a princess who was turned into a Swan by a sorcerer's curse. A prince is having a celebration for his birthday, with a gift of a crossbow. He ventures into the night with swans at the lake, Odette turning back into a human. They fall in love and she saves him from Rothbart. The prince later has his ball and Rothbart and Odile appear, she enchants him to believe she is Odette. In the end their love for each other surpasses all as they both die for each other.
  • Classical ballet, costuming

    Tutus were shortened and became the classical tutu. This allowed the women's choreography to be showcased fully and were able to perform new tricks.
    Pointe shoes were reinforced at the ends and were no longer just for the main dancers, women would partner with men and be supported by them.
  • Russian ballet formula

    Their ballets consisted of a good and evil character, hierarchy for ballet dancer's characters showcasing technique and talent. Corps work became more creative with lines and space. Music worked with the storyline climax.
  • Period: to

    Classical Ballet

    Ballet became a blend of French ballet and the technical aspects of Italian ballet. Performances were extravagant, paying tribute to royalty. Audiences consisted of a ruler, or royalty, highly noted aristocrats, lasting many hours, it was a night of indulgence. Sets became elaborate, as well as costumes. The choreography spanned esteemed ballet dancers, folk dancers, comedy roles, as well as a Grand Pas de Deux. This also introduced the Grand finale of ballets we know today
  • Period: to

    Michel Fokine

    Graduated from the Imperial Ballet School under Marius Petipa, joined the Ballet Russes as Ballet Master in 1909. He was traditional in many ways in the old ballet, but was also willing to be creative. Left Ballet Russes in 1912 because of Nijinsky. Later became a huge contribution to the School of American Ballet with George Balanchine.
  • Period: to

    Vaslav Nijinsky

    Parents were senior dancers with the Setov opera company, he grew up in St Petersburg but was ethnically Polish. He graduated from the Imperial Ballet and was already in the rank of Coryphee. Joined the Ballet Russes in 1909 and was in a relationship with Sergei Diaghilev, when he married a woman, he was tossed out of the company. He was world renowned, with his choreography being in countless original ballets. Faune was supposed to be more sexually suggestive, but had to be toned back.
  • Period: to

    Bronislava Nijinska

    Sister to Vaslav Nijinsky. She attended Imperial Ballet School, in which she won the coveted Artist of the Imperial Theatre guaranteeing her a privileged life as a dancer. She later became apart of the Ballet Russes, leaving the company when her brother was terminated. Over her career, she choreographed over 70 ballets.
  • The Nutcracker

    The story of Marie and Fritz whose Uncle appears at Christmas Eve, she is gifted a Nutcracker. In a tossle, Fritz breaks him. She is heart broken and visits him in the night. A spell shrinks her to the toys height and a battle ensues. She saves her Nutcracker from the Mouse King and is taken through a snow scene. In the Land of the Sweets the Nutcracker tells the tale of her saving him. All celebrate in dances. It ends with a Pas de deux as well as a finale.
  • Period: to

    Ballet Russes

    Founded in 1909 to focus solely on dancer, wasn't commissioned by the government. Dancers were borrowed from Russia, but never performed inside Russia. Male dancer had an important role again, expressiveness and individualism were centered, collaboration with designers, costumers, and musicians.
  • Afternoon of a Faun

    Music score but Debussy, set design by Leon Bakst, choreographed by Nijinsky. Story of a young faun who meets several nymphs, the ending scene cause a lot of controversy with the faun masturbating and climaxing. This had to be changed.
  • Sergei Diaghilev

    Founder of Ballet Russes, came from a wealthy family. Openly gay, this caused a lot of conflict within the company because he took members as lovers.