kinds of dance exist: dances for participation, which do not need spectators; and dances
for presentation, which are designed for an audience. Dances for participation include
work dances, some forms of religious dance, and recreational dances such as folk dances and popular, or social, dances. To ensure that everyone in a community can take part in them, such dances often consist of repetitive step patterns that are easy to learn.
Presentational dances are often performed in royal courts, temples, or theaters; the
dancers may be professionals, and the dance may be considered art. The movements tend to be relatively difficult and require specialized training.
Dance and Society
The physical and psychological effects of dance enable it to serve many functions. It may be a form of worship, a means of honoring ancestors, a way of propitiating the gods, or a method to effect magic. Dancing is mentioned in the Bible, and until the Middle Ages it was often a part of worship services and religious celebrations. Although the Christian church later denounced dancing as immoral, it continued to be important in various Christian and non-Christian sects, among them the American Shakers and the Islamic whirling dervishes.
Dance often occurs at rites of passage, or ceremonies performed when an individual
passes from one role to another. Thus, birth, initiation, graduation, marriage, succession to political office, and death may be marked by dancing. Dance may also be a part of
courtship. In some societies dances may be the only events at which young people of
different sexes can meet. In contemporary society, dances also provide important
occasions for young people to socialize. Work too may be in the form of dance. Rhythmic
movements may make the work go more quickly and efficiently, as in Japanese rice-
planting dances. Dance is an art form in some cultures, and in the 20th century some
dances that originated as elaborate religious rituals or court entertainments have been
adapted to the theater.
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