Step By Step
By Nina Syahira
March 6, 2014
Photo sourced from ourvanity.com
Last month, we gave you a brief look into dance, how it gains popularity outside of its country of origin and the different types of partner dancing. Dance first began as a ritual in ancient civilizations which later became a type of performance to achieve total freedom from reality that resulted from excessive drinking. But as the years passed, it evolved into a showcase for entertainment and now, we have different forms of dancing that displays talent and expressions as well.
Dance is a cultural phenomenon; a movement of celebration of life and its significant moments. Influences on the society and person may be present in the way they dance. A dance can also be a great way to know, understand and study a particular culture.
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Known as the world’s oldest dance, belly dancing has its roots in the Middle East, the Mediterranean and northeastern Africa. It first began as a traditional performance for other women during fertility rites or pre-marriage ceremonies. It is only until the early 20th century that this is done in public in front of coed audiences. It is often performed barefoot simply to connect the dancer to Mother Earth. The beauty of its sensuality has gained attention in the rest of the world like the Americas where it is taken as a form of exercise and also a celebration of heritage.
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This is a subgenre of hip-hop dance. Its origins can be traced back to the start of the hip-hop culture in the late 60s in the South Bronx, one of the poorest quarters of African American ghettos in New York, USA. One of the founders of hip-hop was Clive Campbell or better known as DJ Kool Herc from Jamaica. This dance first began when Kool Herc would repeat instrumental breaks between verses during which dancers would show off their skills on the dance floor. He even coined the name “B-Boy” or “Break Boys”.
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Inspired by the way a tikling or heron bird dodging the bamboo traps that farmers set up, the tinikling is the Philippines’ national dance. There are a few different legends that surround the origin of the dance. One says that during Spain’s occupation of the Philippines, the Spaniards would punish the people who worked on the fields and paddies by clapping together two bamboo poles to beat their feet if they worked too slowly. In order to escape this, the peasants would have to jump.
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Dating back to the Han Dynasty and Tang Dynasty, the lion dance began as a performance during religious festivals. It gained enough popularity in China that it spread out to Taiwan, Japan and even Korea. There are also a few different folklores as to how it first started.
Indian classical dance
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Originated as a religious act, it has now become a performance to include new social life themes while maintaining its art of using precise movements to tell a story. There are various forms of Indian classical dance including Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and Kathak.
All dances start from one culture and sometimes they are even a mix of a few different styles. Cultural or folk dances often tell the story of the lifestyle led by the people within that community. Therefore, every step has a meaning behind it. This knowledge would then be passed down to the next generation of dancers and with new influences in today’s society or after a refreshed look into history, they might be inspired to breathe new life into the old traditions and create something just as beautiful.
One such dance that has elements encompassing knowledge from other genres at a time is the freestyle. Arguably, this dance was born during the beginning of mankind when everyone needed an easy way to take part in common celebrations. But during the disco era in the late 70s, this particular type of dance began to rise in popularity and the moves style is heavily influenced by other genres like jazz, belly dancing and hip-hop. It’s also usually done unscripted, though sometimes there’s choreography for the framework with spaces for improvisation in between.
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Freestyle is convenient and fun for dancers to show off their skills. Their background in whichever genre(s) will shine through their dance and due to its free flow nature, it teaches the ability to let go emotionally and also keeps things exciting for them. It’s a cheap way to exercise, meditate and deal with everyday life too. It encourages self-expression, improves flexibility and strength, increases cardiovascular health and builds self-confidence.
Photo sourced from nytimes.com
Another type of dance that has influences from other forms like jazz and American modern dance is the butoh. Motivated by the state of Japan in the late 50s to find a new sense of identity after the war, founder Tatsuni Hijikata created a movement that is a cross between dance and theatre. Whether it scares you or makes you happy after watching it, this outrageous art of expression will definitely challenge the mind and its way of thinking.
Now that you know some of the different types of dances out there today, try and learn one now! Check out our classes here!
But if you just prefer to watch the dances mentioned in this article, check out our travel deals to go see them live in their places of origin! Don’t forget to use your remaining SAFRA vouchers too!
Or if you wish to see some great local dancers in action, join us at Dance Fiesta 2014 that’s coming really soon!