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.
Originally Rome had exclusively religious dances. As Rome gained dominance, including conquering Greece, more dance traditions were absorbed. The Bacchanalia and Lupercalia festivals highlight the importance of dance in Rome.
Under Christianity, dance fell under the control and condemnation of the Church. Records of Medieval dance are fragmented and limited, but a noteworthy dance reference from the medieval period is the allegory of the Danse Macabre.
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.
In the 17th century, the French minuet, characterized by its bows, courtesies and gallant gestures, permeated the European cultural landscape.
Germany does not have an official national dance, but recognized dance styles include:
- 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.
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