Indians dance to give thanks for a harvest, the Mexicans to celebrate a religious festival, teenagers dance at parties, both young and old go discoing and children everywhere dance because it is pleasurable to express joy through bodily movement or language. Origin and Function of the Dance Dancing has primitive beginnings. It can be deduced from the behavior of primitive tribes surviving today that the rhythm that spurred on the dances mostly came from the beat sustained through the stamping of the feet on the ground.
Soon, dance was used for purposes of affecting the whole tribe; hunting dance to depict the capture or a prey or a warlike dance to show the defeat of enemy. There were dances of thanksgiving for a good harvest, good weather and wanted rain. Rain dances have survived in some parts of the world until today. In biblical dances, the Old Testament attests that Miriam, the sister of Moses, led the women in a dances of joy after Israelites escaped from Egypt. King David danced before the Ark of the Covenant to express thanksgiving.
Psalm 149 says, Let them praise HIS name in the dance. The Bible tells us when people danced, but it does not tell how they danced. The Hebrew religion forbade the making of images. Thus there are no paintings or statues to help reconstruct the dances of Miriam or David. In earlier times, supplications t Gods was the beginning of the religious aspect of dancing. In the West, the most sophisticated of professional dancers put their art at the service of religion taking part in celebrations in great cathedrals or in humble churches.
It is believed that the more grotesque kinds of dancing in plays and spectacles were developed by the Romans. In the East as well as in the West, dancing was developed as a social grace. Various kinds of religious, social and theatrical dances evolved slowly in the dances today. Generally, western dance techniques are based mostly on footwork, while the Eastern forms of art dance, depending upon footwork to sustain the rhythm, derive their greatest beauty and subtle meanings from the infinite variety of delicate movements of the upper part of the body, especially the head, neck and hands.
In the East as in the West, dance was indigenous to religious ceremony, and was used for entertainment. Plato, the great Greek Philosopher demanded a place for the dance in his ideal republic saying that it would help towards acquiring noble, harmonious and graceful attitudes. The implication is that dance was already appreciated for its own sake, as an expression of beauty and movement. The domination of the Roman Catholic Church in Europe, after the fall of Rome, virtually extinguished theatrical dance, but it was reborn together with other art of Italy.