A history of Dancing - PDF book by Gaston Vuillier

A history of Dancing 


A history of Dancing
A history of Dancing 

From introduction:

The nearest approach to such must have been the leaps and bounds, the incoherent gestures, by which he expressed the joys and furies of his brutal life. But when men began to form themselves into groups, this artless impulse became more flexible; it accepted rules and submitted to laws.

 Dancing, a flower of night, is said to have germinated under the skies of the Pharaohs; tradition speaks of rounds, symbolic of sidereal motion, circling beneath the stars on the august soil of Egypt, mighty mother of the world. It manifested itself at first in sacred sciences, severe and hieratic; yet even then it babbled brokenly of joy and grief in the processions of Apis. 

Later on, in the course of ages, it became interwoven with all the manifestations of popular life, reflecting the passions of man, and translating the most secret movements of the soul into physical action. From the solemnity of religious rites, from the fury of warfare, it passed to the gaiety of pastoral sports, the dignity and grace of polished society.

 It took on the splendour of social festivities, the caressing and voluptuous languors of love, and even dolefully followed the funeral train. As early as the year 2545 b.c. we find traces of the Hieratic dances, bequeathed by the priests of ancient Egypt, which were held in high honour among the Hebrews. But no antique race gave themselves up so eagerly to the art as the Greeks. 

The word " dancing " gives us but a feeble idea of their conception of the art. With them, it was Nomas or Orchesis, the art of expressive gesture, governing not only the movement of the feet, but the discipline of the body generally, and its various attitudes. Gait, movement, even immobility, were alike subject to its laws. To them, it was, in fact,  language, governing all movements, and regulating them by rhythm. In Greece, the cradle of the arts and of legend, the Muses manifested themselves to man as a radiant choir, led by Terpsichore. 

On the slopes of Olympus and Pelion, the chaste Graces mingled with forest Nymphs in Rounds danced under the silvery light of the moon. Hesiod saw the Muses treading the violets of Hippocrene under their alabaster feet at dawn in rhythmic measure.

 Fiction interlinked itself with reality: mad with joy, Bacchantes whirled about the staggering Silenus, and the daughters of Sparta eagerly imitated the martial exercises of their warriors. A whole world of dreams peopled the poetic Greece of long ago. In the hush of forests, before sacred altars, in the sunshine, under starlight, bands of maidens crowned with oak leaves, garlanded with flowers, passed dancing in honour of Pan, of Apollo, of Diana, of the Age of Innocence, and of chaste wedlock. 

The Romans imitated the Greeks in all the arts, borrowing their dances just as they adored their gods. But primitive Rome was still barbaric when the arts were shining in incomparable splendour in Greece. Romulus had given a sort of savage choreography to Rome.

 Numa instituted a solemn religious dance, practised only by the Salian priests. The arts of Greece soon degenerated after their migration to Rome. The virginal dances of early Greece, the feasts of sacred mysteries, the Keast of Flora, so lovely in its first simplicity of joy in the opening flowers and caressing sunshine of returning spring, became unrecognisable, serving as pretexts for every kind of licence. Theatrical dancing, however, attained extraordinary perfection among the Romans, and pantomime, an art unknown to the Greeks, had its birth among their rivals. 

After centuries of folly, which brought about the downfall of the great race, the art of dancing disappeared. It is to be traced again during the persecutions of the early Church, moving among the solitary retreats of the first Christians, who, no doubt, bore in mind the sacred dances of the Hebrews. In the Church of St. Pancras at Rome there still exists a sort of stage, separated from the altar, on which, we are told, priests and worshippers joined in measures led by their Bishop. 

These traditional rites, derived from the Scriptures, and perpetuated by an artless faith, degenerated in their turn and served at last as pretexts for impure spectacles.

Some contents:

CHAPTER I
Sacred Dances— Cybele and A flit— The Shield if Achilles— The Hyforchema—The
Gymmpaedia and the Endy matin — The Hirmis and the Pyrrhic Dance — The Bacchanalia— The Salii — Reman Mimes under the Empire — The Gaditanian Dancers


CHAPTER II
Religious Dances— St rilling Ballet j— Dances of Chivalry— The " Ballet dis Ardents "—Berginxii di Bilta's Ballet


CHAPTER III
The Grand Ballet — Trench Dances if the Clise if the Middle Ages, and if the Renaissance — Bass* Dances — The V lite— The Gaillarde—The Tirdiin—Brandi —The Pavane 70-107



the book details :
  • Author:  Gaston Vuillier and Joseph Grego,
  • Publication date:1898
  • Company: London, Heinemann

  • Download 25 MB   - A history of Dancing  contains numerous illustrations 
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