Social dance



Social dances are
dance Dance is a performing art art form, form consisting of sequences of movement, either improvised or purposefully selected. This movement has aesthetic and often symbolism (arts), symbolic value. Dance can be categorized and described by its chor ...
s that have a social functions and context. Social dances are intended for participation rather than
performance A performance is an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment. It is also defined as the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function. Management science In the work place ...
. They are often danced merely to socialise and for entertainment, though they may have ceremonial, competitive and erotic functions. Many social dances of European origin are in recent centuries partner dances ''(see
Ballroom dance Ballroom dance is a set of partner dances, which are enjoyed both social dance, socially and ballroom dance#Competitive dancing, competitively around the world, mostly because of its performance dance, performance and entertainment aspects. Ballr ...
)'' but this is quite rare elsewhere, where there may instead be circle dances or line dances, perhaps reserved for those of a certain age, gender or social position.

Social dance in the west

The types of dance performed in social gatherings change with social values. Social dance music of the 14th century has been preserved in manuscript, though without proper choreography, for dances such as the '' ballo'', carol, '' stampita,
saltarello The ''saltarello'' is a musical dance originally from Italy. The first mention of it is in Add MS 29987, a late-fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century manuscript of Tuscany, Tuscan origin, now in the British Library. It was usually played in a f ...
, trotto and roto(dance). The 15th century is the first period from which written records of dances exist. A manuscript from Brussels highlights the Burgundian court dance, which spread all over Europe, referred to as the basse dance in which a large group perform a series of steps in triple time. Italian courts danced '' balli'', with a wide array of choreographed rhythms, steps and positions for the dancers. These were documented in instruction books written by the dance masters who choreographed them for the courts. Social dances of lower classes were not recorded until the Late Renaissance. According to Richard Powers, courtiers in the late 16th century continually had to "prove themselves through their social skills, especially through dance." Recorded social dances of the late 16th century include the pavane and the Canary dance. Thoinot Arbeau's book ''Orchésographie'' describes peasant branles as well as the 16th century ''basse danse'' and ''la volta''. The peasants from the countryside supplied new dances to the court as the old ones' novelty wore out. During the Baroque Era court balls served to display social status. A formal ball opened with a branle in which couples stood in a line in order of their place in the social hierarchy, the most highly regarded couples dancing first. The Menuet and the Gavotte gained popularity. Balls often ended with an English country dance. France gained a pre-eminence in dance, but the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, ...
created a shift away from formality. During the Regency Era, from 1811 to 1830, the
Quadrille The quadrille is a dance that was fashionable in late 18th- and 19th-century Europe and its colonies. The quadrille consists of a chain of four to six ''Country dance, contredanses''. Latterly the quadrille was frequently danced to a medley of ...
became the most popular dance in England and France. The Quadrille consisted of a large variety of steps that skimmed the ground, such as chassé and jeté. Most other dances of this era, such as the
Mazurka The mazurka (Polish language, Polish: ''mazur'' Polish ball dance, one of the five Polish national dances and ''mazurek'' Polish folk dance') is a Polish musical form based on stylised folk dances in triple meter, usually at a lively tempo, w ...
, were performed in lines and squares. The waltz, which arrived in Britain toward the end of the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic Wars, Europe ...
, was a partner dance in which partners danced more closely than had previously been considered acceptable. In the waltz, neither partner led. Individuals danced as equals, which was new at the time. The Polka was another dance that arose during this time in which partners were scandalously close. According to Powers, the dances of this time were "fresh, inventive, youthful, and somewhat daring," which mirrored society at the time.

20th century America

Towards the end of the 19th century, Americans were tiring of the court dances of their grandparents' era. In the early 20th century, Americans began pairing Victorian dances such as the Two-Step with Ragtime music. Other dances included the African American Cakewalk, and animal dances such as the Turkey Trot. The most popular social dance of the time was the One-Step. The dance consisted of couples taking one step on each beat of the music, so even beginners could participate. The introduction of the phonograph record marked a shift toward dancing to recorded music, as radio stations, jukeboxes, and sock hops played records to dance to. Swing dance in the 1930s has grown in popularity, taking many dance forms, some of them, such as
Lindy Hop The Lindy Hop is an American dance which was born in the Black communities of Harlem, New York City, in 1928 and has evolved since then. It was very popular during the swing era of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Lindy is a fusion of many danc ...
or West Coast Swing have survived to today. Rock 'n' roll in the 1950s brought about a shift in social dancing toward rebelliousness. This shift was seen especially in teenagers who did not want to dance the same steps that their parents did. The dancing was mostly swing based but had a variations in different regions. Couples began dancing as individuals for the first time, sending the message that there did not have to be a leader and a follower.

Social Dancing in Europe

Social dance in Europe has its long traditions that go into the 17th Century and earlier. Many European countries have developed their own national social dancing traditions that remain active.

Social Dance Videos

Social dance videos is well represented on one of the main social dance channels
Social Dance TV - Kirill Korshikov



Further reading

* {{Authority control Articles containing video clips