Portal:Dance

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Der Kinderreigen
Dance (from Old French dancier, perhaps from Frankish) generally refers to human movement either used as a form of expression or presented in a social, spiritual or performance setting.

Dance also is used to describe methods of non-verbal communication (see body language) between humans or animals (bee dance, mating dance), motion in inanimate objects (the leaves danced in the wind), and certain genres.

Choreography is the art of making dances.

Definitions of what constitutes dance are dependent on social, cultural, aesthetic, artistic and moral constraints and range from functional movement (such as folk dance) to codified, virtuoso techniques such as ballet. Dance disciplines exist in sports such as gymnastics, figure skating, and synchronized swimming, and martial arts kata are often compared to dance.

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Dancing in a juke joint outside Clarksdale, Mississippi; November 1939.
The Lindy Hop is an African American dance, based on the popular Charleston and named for Charles Lindbergh's Atlantic crossing in 1927. It evolved in New York City in the 1920s and '30s and originally evolved with the jazz music of that time. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston. It is frequently described as a jazz dance and is a member of the swing dance family.

Lindy Hop entered mainstream American culture in the 1930s, gaining popularity through multiple sources. Dance troupes, including the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers (also known as the Harlem Congaroos), Hot Chocolates and Big Apple Dancers exhibited the Lindy Hop. Hollywood films, such as Hellzapoppin' and A Day at the Races began featuring the Lindy Hop in dance sequences. Dance studios such as those of Arthur Murray and Irene and Vernon Castle began teaching Lindy Hop.

Social lindy hop dancing (social meaning unchoreographed) varies in each city and country, with each local scene having its own unique dance etiquette and social conventions. Generally, lindy hop is danced by a lead and follow partnership, with the lead most frequently being a man, and the follow being a woman. Social lindy hop not only involves partners dancing unchoreographed dances, but also a range of other traditions and activities. Jam circles, are a tradition dating back to the 1930s and earlier in African American vernacular dance culture, and have much in common with musical cutting contests in jazz. Malcolm X describes 'jam circles' in his autobiography as a loose circle forming around a couple or individual whose dancing was so impressive it captured the attention of dancers around them, who would stop and watch, cheering and clapping. This tradition continues in most lindy hop communities today, with other couples interrupting, joining, or replacing the original couple in the cleared 'circle'. Dancers usually leave or enter at the end of a musical phrase. Lindy Hop today is danced as a social dance, as a competitive dance, as a performance dance, and in classes, workshops, and camps.

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A tap dancer jumping into the air
Credit: Airborne tap dancer, photo by Lambtron

Tap dance is a form of dance in which the shoes worn by the dancer, known as tap shoes, are used as percussive instruments. The percussive sounds are made by metal "taps" on the heel and toe of each shoe.

Did you know

Rosina Galli

... that Rosina Galli (pictured) was the prima ballerina at La Scala Theatre Ballet before she became the première danseuse at the Metropolitan Opera House?

... that LeRoy Prinz, who staged dances in dozens of Hollywood movies in the 1930s and 1940s, was more an "idea man" than a choreographer, using simple steps and dance routines?

... that Tatjana Gsovsky, ballet mistress at opera houses in East Berlin, Buenos Aires and West Berlin, first choreographed ballets by Henze and Nono?

... during the production of Sylvia, the score was constantly under construction by Delibes, often with the aid of lead dancers Louis Mérante and Rita Sangalli?

... the Baltic Song and Dance Celebrations are Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity?

...that the score of Giselle contains additions by Léon Minkus?

... that in 2008, the Romanian ballet mistress Mijaela Tesleoanu was one of only two non-Cubans on the payroll of the Cuban National Ballet?

Selected biography

Debbie Allen (born January 16, 1950 in Houston, Texas) is an American actress, choreographer, director, and producer. She first began receiving critical attention in 1980, when she appeared in the role of Anita in the Broadway revival of West Side Story which earned her a Drama Desk Award.

She is probably best known for her role as Lydia Grant in the hit 1982 TV series Fame. During the opening montage of each episode, Ms. Grant told her students: "You've got big dreams? You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying... in sweat." Allen was also lead choreographer for the film and television series, winning two Emmy Awards and one Golden Globe Award.

She has a B.A. in classical Greek literature, speech, and theater from Howard University. She also holds honoris causa Doctors from Howard and the North Carolina School for the Arts.

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