Dance History

Topics: MusicRagtime

Dance has been around since the 6000B.C1. It was first discovered in India by archaeologists and it is said to be believed that dance was first introduced in religious ceremonies related to ancient myths and gods. However, over the decades the way of dance has evolved and now we have many different styles of dance which are used in many ways and can have different meanings. Today our focus will be on the evolution of dance from the 1900s to our present time, that’s 12 decades of dance history.

In the early 1900s, the famous dance style was Ragtime dance. The Turkey Trot falls under this type of dance style and is said to have originated in San Francisco. The Turkey Trot was danced to fast Ragtime music introduced by the dancers’ John Jarrott and Louise Gruening, and it was also one of the first “animal dances”, animal dances were famous in the early 1900s and the late 1920s. The Turkey trot consists of a man and woman dancing face to face and going in a straight line around the floor while “flapping” their arms, and that is where they got the name of Turkey Trot.

Although the Turkey trot was nothing more than a dance some considered it “demoralizing and or sexually suggestive”, and some even tried to eliminate this dance but failed.

The 1920’s dance style was much different than before, Waltz and Tango were influenced by Rudolph Valentino. Tango was all about the feet and the head and was also somewhat fast but waltz was smoother and consisted of turns and slow dancing but both involving a partner as well.

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Tango originated in Buenos Aires where European and African immigrants who would dance in the streets were popular due to the shortage of women. There were more men in Buenos Aires than there were women. The Waltz is unique because it’s the only ballroom dance written in ¾ time. Waltz was most popular around Europe due to its “rich” style. Both styles of dances were controversial at some point due to the physical contact with the opposite gender.

In the early 1940s, swing dancing evolved and this style of dance consists of a partner as well and turns in the dance, swing dancing was somewhat fast like the previous style of dance the decades before (tango). The famous swing dance was the “Lindy Hop” origins of swing, it involves footwork and has also evolved with jazz music over the years. A fact about swing dancing was that it was banned from Germany because it was said to believe that it originated from African roots, also the words to the songs expressed freedom which the Germans didn’t approve. Swing dancing actually originated and popularized by African Americans in Harlem.

During the first decades of the 1900s, we see how dancing evolves from dancing solo or in a group to a partner preferably a man and woman. Also, how some people viewed the new styles of dance vulgar because it was in contact with the opposite gender. Discrimination is also shown because when African Americans have a dance style the Americans despite it and some even banish it, but yet some rename it and make a few changes and claim it their own to take credit for its popularity.

The 1960s dance era was as “original” at this time. The Twist fell under this dance style, it consisted of swiveling of the hips and it was danced and inspired by rock and roll music. The Twist grew its name after the Chubby Checker an American singer danced in one of his musical performances in the early 60s. In the 1970s line dances evolved in discos, this involved the dance “the hustle”. Some features for the hustle coincide with the swing dances from the early 1940s.In the present time, the hustle mostly refers to the unique partner dance done in ballrooms and nightclubs to disco music.

The running man was a very popular dance in the 1980s and it originated from African Americans, it was considered a street dance. Famous singer Janet Jackson performed the running man dance on her famous video of her hit song “Rythm Nation”. This dance came up into fame again in 2016 when a group of African American kids posted a video of themselves doing this dance on social media it ended up being a big hit.

In conclusion, dance has evolved throughout the years and it’s always changing due to how society changes. Dancing was a way for everyone all over the world to express their culture in their own way and to come together as one and enjoy themselves.

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Dance History. (2022, May 10). Retrieved from

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