Knowledge Basic Info
Western dance, history of Western dance from ancient times to the present and including the development of ballet, the waltz, and various types of modern dance.
The peoples of the West—of Europe and of the countries founded through permanent European settlement elsewhere—have a history of dance characterized by great diversity and rapid change. Whereas most dancers of the East repeated highly refined forms of movement that had remained virtually unchanged for centuries or millennia, Western dancers showed a constant readiness, even eagerness, to accept new vehicles for their dancing. From the earliest records, it appears that Western dance has always embraced an enormous variety of communal or ritual dances, of social dances enjoyed by many different levels of society, and of skilled theatrical dances that followed distinct but often overlapping lines of development.
The article folk art covers in greater detail the unique nature, techniques, forms, and functions, and the historical developments of each of these kinds of Western dance. In addition, the article dance covers the aesthetics and the varieties of dance, both Western and non-Western.
The West cannot always be clearly distinguished from the non-West, especially in such countries as Russia or other regions of the former Soviet Union, where some dances are Asian and others European in origin and character. This article focuses on the dance of Western peoples, noting where appropriate the influence of other cultures.