(National Dances): Bohemian: the redowa. English: the
hornpipe and lancers. French: the contredanse
(country dance), cotillon, and quadrille. German: the
gallopade and waltz. Irish: the jig. Neapolitan: the
tarantella. Polish: the mazurka
and krakovieck, Russian: the cossac. Scotch: the reel. Spanish: the bolero and fandango. When Handel
was asked to point out the peculiar taste of the different nations of
Europe in dancing, he ascribed the minuet to the French, the saraband to the Spaniard, the arietta to the Italian, and
the hornpipe and the morris-dance to the English.
Astronomical dances, invented by the Egyptians, designed (like our
orreries) to represent the movements of the heavenly bodies.
The Bacchic' dances
were of three sorts: grave (like our minuet), gay (like our
gavotte), and mixed (like our minuet and gavotte combined).
The dance Champètre,
invented by Pan, quick and lively. The dancers (in the open air)
wore wreaths of oak and garlands of flowers.
in Lacedemonia, in honour of Diana. The children were nude; and
their movements were grave, modest, and graceful.
in honour of Bacchus, accompanied with timbrels, fifes, flutes, and
a tumultuous noise produced by the clashing of swords and spears
against brazen bucklers.
in Athens, slow, solemn dances in which the priests took part. The
performers wore long white robes, and carried cypress slips in their
were lively and joyous. The dancers being crowned with flowers.
Of the Lapithæ,
invented by Pirithöus. These were exhibited after
some famous victory, and were designed to imitate the combats of the
Centaurs and Lapithæ. These dances were both difficult and dangerous.
at Rome. At daybreak lads and lasses went out to gather “May” and
other flowers for themselves and their elders; and the day was spent in
dances and festivities.
The oldest of all dances, executed with swords, javelins, and
bucklers. Said to be invented by Minerva to celebrate the victory of
the gods over the Titans.
A Roman pantomimic performance resembling the dances of our
harlequin and columbine. Sacred dances
(among the Jews). David
danced in certain religious processions (2 Sam. vi. 14). The people
sang and danced before the golden calf (Exod. xxxii. 19). And in the
book of Psalms (cl. 4) we read, “Let [the people] praise [the Lord]
with timbrel and dance. Miriam, the sister of Moses, after the passage
of the Red Sea, was followed by all the women with timbrels and dances”
(Exod. xv. 20).
instituted by Numa Pompilius in honour of Mars. They were executed
by twelve priests selected from the highest of the nobility, and the
dances were performed in the temple while sacrifices were being made
and hymns sung to the god.
The Dancing Dervishes celebrate their religious rites with dances,
which consist chiefly of spinning round and round a little allotted
space, not in couples, but each one alone.
In ancient times the Gauls, the Germans, the Spaniards, and the
English too had their sacred dances. In fact, in all religious
ceremonies the dance was an essential part of divine worship. In India
dancing is a part of religious worship in which the priests join.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894