Dance: My First Love Essay

2330 words - 9 pages

Dance has been a part of human history since the earliest records of human life (Praagh 30). Cave paintings found in Spain and France from 30,000 -10,000 BC had life-like drawings of dancing figures participating in rituals. They illustrated the prominence of dance in early human society. Later in the Renaissance Era a new attitude towards the body, the arts, and dance was originated. The courts of Italy and France became the center of new developments in dance, providing support to dancing masters and musicians who created large scale social dances for the acknowledgment of celebrations and festivities. In the court of Catherine de Medici, the Italian wife of Henry II of France, the first forms of ballet stemmed from the genius dancer, Balthazar de Beauhoyeulx. In 1581, Balthazar displayed the first full-length ballet for an audience. His piece was an idealized dance that told the story of a legend by combining spoken texts, intricate settings, and costumes with group dances full of strong technique (Praagh 100). In 1661, Louis XIV of France granted the organization of the first Royal Academy of Dance (Praagh 101). Because of this, during the next centuries, ballet developed into a high-class discipline and art form. Social couple dances such as the minuet and the waltz began to emerge as a display of free will and expression. In the 19th century, the era of romantic ballet reflected the struggles ballerinas had in the new time period in such ballet classics as Giselle (1841), Swan Lake (1895), and the Nutcracker (1892) (Praagh 125). At the turn of the new century, with the commotion of World War I, the arts reflected a major questioning of values and a hysterical search for new forms that reflected individual expression and a more vigorous way of life. The Russian impresario, Sergey Diaghilev, became the leading inventor of dance in Europe reviving ballet with some of the brightest choreographers, composers, visual artists and designers of his time (Praagh 127). His ballets created a total theater experience and his company’s principal dancers included Ana Pavlov, Claude Debussy, Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso, George Ballanchine and the unique choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, specializing in curved body movements and unusual footwork (Praagh 130). Not long after the revival of ballet, a new style of dance began to rise out of the women’s release from ballet’s stylized movements. This new form of dancing emerged valuing free expression of confined emotions and thoughts (Praagh 131). The pioneers of this new dance were Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) and Ruth St. Denis (1877-1968). In 1915, St. Denis founded the Denishawn Company, which became the cradle for the forerunners of American modern dancers, including Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman (Praagh 133). Presently, as dance continues to expand all over the world, many people try to push their way into the business. Some are in it for the money and others are in it for the pure love...

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