cancan (kănˈkăn) [key], a lively French dance marked chiefly by high kicking. It was developed in Paris in the 1830s and became a popular social dance there. By the mid-19th cent. it was incorporated into dance revues and stage productions. Jacques Offenbach wrote the best-known cancan music. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec made celebrated paintings and lithographs of famous cancan dancers.
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