History Of Dance

Dance History

What is the history of Dance? What are its origins? Where did Dance come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Dance.

Dance is an art form that was created thousands of years ago. There are many different styles of dance, each requiring their own movements, clothes, or positions. There are not generic rules that apply to dancing, but there are many different rules applying to etiquette for dance classes or competitions. Dancers should be wearing the proper shoes for the style of dance they are performing (like tap shoes for tap dancing, ballet shoes for a ballet dance), as well as an outfit appropriate to the dance and competition. Dancers should also not steal routines from other dancers without asking for permission, since a dance is an original form of art.

Origins of Dance

No singular country can definitively be credited with inventing dance, but historians have traced some ancient dances from 9000 years ago back to modern day India. Cave paintings depicted people dancing with others playing instruments! Some traditional dances of today can still be traced back to Ancient India, Greece, Rome, and China, where civilizations and art flourished. Dance was a way to celebrate during festivals, a source of entertainment, and a religious ceremony for many of these civilizations.

Specific and newer dances have more particular beginnings, like the salsa, which was invented in Cuba during the late 19th century. The tango, meanwhile, was created in Argentina with African and European influences.

Dance has been popular since civilizations have existed. But, dance became a profession in the mid-1400's when dancers begane performing for wealthy Europeans. By the mid-1600's, the first ballet company and theatre were established by King Louis XIV in Paris, with one founded in Russia soon after. Ballet soon became a major source of entertainment around the world and became less reliant on wealthy donors to support it. Ballet dancers were exclusively male at first, but in time female ballerinas took over that popularity and have sustained it still to this day.

Dance Inventors

Due to the ancient beginnings of dance, we cannot attribute the invention of dance to one singular person or group. The cave paintings found in India do not reveal any clues to the invention of dance, just how far the tradition goes back. Even modern dances are difficult to credit to a single person, since they become so widespread and change over the course of time. Typically, we attribute styles of dance to the certain countries, states, or cities they became popularized in. We know breakdancing originated in Brooklyn in the 1970's and that the can-can began in Paris in the 1830's, but we can't put one name to these dances.


Dance has been popular since its invention, due to its many uses during festivals and ceremonies. However, during the European Renaissance (1300-1600 AD) is when new styles of dance became popular and more widespread. Choreographed dances to both slow and fast music were popularized by the wealthy class. Later, as the world became more spread out, new styles of dances were influenced by African and South American cultures.

Dance is popular everywhere in the world! We dance to celebrate at weddings or parties, dance to entertain others, or simply dance when we are happy. Here are some countries where we see professional dancers more often than in others.

  • United States
  • France
  • England
  • Russia
  • Senegal
  • Guinea
  • South Africa
  • Zimbabwe

Key Facts and Timeline

  • ~6000 BC- Indian cave paintings are drawn depicting people dancing.
  • ~800 BC- Ancient Greeks used dance to give praise to the god Dionysus during ancient festivals.
  • ~0 AD- Bharatanatyam was invented in Ancient India- a Hindu religious dance that is still performed today!
  • 1300-1600- The European Renaissance brought a more widespread and regal view of dance, with many wealthy aristocrats performing both fast and slow choreographed dances.
  • 1661-1672- King Louis XIV opens the "Academie Royale de Danse" in Paris and establishes a professional dance company.
  • 1844- The polka and waltz became popular dances around the world.
  • Early 1900's- Modern dances like the foxtrot, tango, charleston, and swing were invented.
  • 1990's- Breakdancing became mainstream in America, leading to a larger emergence of hip-hop dancing in the world.
  • 2005- Dancing With the Stars airs in America, bringing ballroom dancing back to popularity.
  • Dance has been around since the beginning of civilizations and is still popular today as a way to entertain, celebrate, exercise, or show praise!
  • Many dances have African roots, like capoeira and tap-dancing!
  • Dance can be a profession for many talented individuals, but most dancers have to retire early in their careers due to the physical exertion it requires.