European dances

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European dances refers to various dances originating in Europe. Since Medieval ages, European dances tend to be refined, as they are based on the court dances of aristocrats.


In ancient times, European dances were performed as either sacred dances in religious ceremonies[1] or for popular entertainment.

Greek dance included religious worship, education, religious or civil ceremonies and festivities.[2] One famous Greek dance is the dithyramb, in honor of Dionysus.

Originally Rome had exclusively religious dances. As Rome gained dominance, including conquering Greece, more dance traditions were absorbed.[3] The Bacchanalia and Lupercalia festivals highlight the importance of dance in Rome.

Under Christianity, dance fell under the control and condemnation of the Church.[4] Records of Medieval dance are fragmented and limited, but a noteworthy dance reference from the medieval period is the allegory of the Danse Macabre.

During the Renaissance, dance became more diverse.[5] Country dances, performed for pleasure, became distinct from court dances, which had ceremonial and political functions.[6]

In Germany, from a modified Ländler, the waltz was introduced in all the European courts. Thus, group dance gives way to couples dance.[7]

The 16th century Queen of France Catherine de' Medici promoted and popularized dance in France. Catherine helped develop the ballet de cour. The production of the Ballet Comique de la Reine in 1581 is regarded by scholars as the first authentic ballet.[8]

In the 17th century, the French minuet, characterized by its bows, courtesies and gallant gestures, permeated the European cultural landscape.

National traditions[edit]


Germany does not have an official national dance, but recognized dance styles include:[9]

  • Ländler: A dance for couples showing fierceness and trampling. Sometimes it is purely instrumental and sometimes is accompanied by vocal arrangements including yodeling. When ballroom dancing became popular in Europe in the 19th century, Ländler became faster and more elegant and men took the nails off of the boots they danced with. It is believed to be the forerunner of the waltz.
  • Polka: A popular dance appeared in Bohemia in 1830.


  2. ^ "Brief Description of the Greek Dance". Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  3. ^ "Roman Dance". Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  4. ^ "The History of Dance in the Church". RU. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  5. ^ "Historia",
  6. ^ "Western Social Dance". Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  7. ^ ÁNGEL ZAMORA "Danzas del Mundo" Publisher= CCSS.
  8. ^ "Ballet comique de la reine | dance by Beaujoyeulx". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  9. ^ "German Dance" Retrieved 2016-02-10.