Energetic or graceful, dancers use athletic skill and flexibility to perform a series of movements, often in time to music. Dancing is a form of expression that may be a type of performing art, part of a special ritual, or a fun social activity. The earliest dancers used movement to worship gods and spirits and to act out stories. In performances, dancers often follow a pre-planned series of steps and movements devised by a choreographer.
BALLET: Ballet is a theatrical dance with graceful moves. Dancers undergo rigorous training and wear special hard-toed ballet shoes in order to dance en pointe - on the tip of their toes.
DISCO: In the 1970s, pop songs with strong dance beats ruled the airwaves and people gathered in clubs to disco dance. Some dances had set steps; others were created by the dancers themselves, perhaps inspired by the film Saturday Night Fever.
CHINESE DRAGON DANCE: In this ceremonial dance, dating back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), a team of performers carries a colourful dragon, held up with poles. They lift and lower the poles to make the dragon dance. This dance is a key part of Chinese New Year celebrations.
BHARATANATYAM: In ancient times, Hindu temple dancers in south India performed a set of moves and postures to tell the stories of the gods. These evolved into the Bharatanatyam dance style. In this dance, certain poses - especially hand gestures -are held to represent different meanings.
TANGO: This dramatic dance for couples began as a street dance in Argentina and Uruguay during the mid-1800s. With hands tightly clasped, dancers either face each other, or look in the same direction, as they move to the beat. Tango is also the name for the music associated with the dance.
CAN-CAN: This high-kicking, cartwheeling dance began in Paris in the 1830s, and was originally for couples. French dance troupes soon took up the can-can in music halls, where chorus lines of girls performed the energetic dance.
TRIBAL DANCE: These traditional African dances, often performed to the beat of a drum, are important parts of many ceremonies, both joyful (weddings and coming-of-age celebrations) and sad (funerals). Tribal dances help to unite and uplift the community.
LIMBO: The limbo was created in the Caribbean Islands. Performers have to dance under a horizontal pole without touching it or losing their balance. The pole is lowered after each round until one limbo champion dancer remains.
FLAMENCO: With its roots in small villages of the Andalusia region in Spain, flamenco is a passionate style of music and dance with a strong, powerful rhythm. Dancers click their fingers and stamp their feet to match the drama of the guitar music.
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