Origins of Dance
Since time began, dancing has been a preternatural way of expressing one’s self. A way addressed even in the bible, untraceable by time or science. Even though any studies that humans devote their time to today reveals only the tip of the so called iceberg, dancing, in particular, has a mystical variance that science can only define to a certain extent. This, however, is true with any form of art we as people create. The questions we then are brought to asking are: “how can we delineate dance?” “How can dancing save lives?” “Who could we ask?” Needless to say, there is an array of things to consider about how simply stepping back, shifting weight onto the balls of your feet, and preparing for the next step, can take us into another dimension in which love, truth, and happiness thrive in a real but immeasurable way.
To have one’s mind, body, and soul taken by music and dance all in one moment is surreal beyond belief. When I dance, it makes me feel like I am in the presence of God himself. In a way, when you’re dancing with the right intentions, you are well on your way to becoming a saint. One saint that understood this was Saint Vitus. Saint Vitus was born in about 290 C.E., son of a Senator Hylas in Sicily. He was a martyr under the reign of two emperors; Maximian, and Diocletian around 305 C.E.; he was boiled in oil. Legend says, in the coliseum the animals that were set upon Saint Vitus refused to attack him. More impressively, sometimes the saint’s father would glance through the keyhole of Vitus’s dungeon and witnessed Vitus proclaiming praises to the Lord and dancing with seven beautiful angels. Saint Vitus was one of the first saints to incorporate art into the Christian morality and ideal.
Saint Cecilia happens to be another prime example of a saint who brought the arts into the faith in a deeper and more meaningful way. She made her way into God’s world around 2nd or 3rd century, though her exact birth and death are unknown. History says that she was a virgin martyr, condemned to be suffocated in the public baths. Cecilia was shut in the bath for one full night and as they heated it with bonfires to boil the water, Cecilia didn’t even sweat. As soon as word reached the alchemist of the area, they sent an executioner to cut off her head. He struck her three times but was unable to behead her, so he left her there, bleeding. She lived for three more days in the bath while she blead, preaching and praying for the crowd that accompanied her during the last hours of her life. She is now the patron of music.
In the presence of all my Catholic theological talk of dance, one can certainly come to the conclusion that there is definitely a strong spiritual element within dancing. According to a group based in the U.K., known as History World, produces textbooks for use in high school and college level world history classes. According to History World’s texts, the first historical evidence of dance that we know of as of yet took place sometime near 600 C. E. In their interpretation, the Choros, (what choros means), originally danced in revolution along with the temple virgins. This tradition was a key factor in the then developing Greek theatres. Moreover, many plays and dances like this would be held for religious purposes and to honor gods, most often the god of revelry, Dionysus. One can only conclude that dancing mystical wonder and why they do it is a poignant anomaly.
Dancing is something that has been in incorporated with religion and spirituality since the beginning of humanity’s fascination with the divine began. There are many healthy incentives associated with dancing that go hand in hand with the spiritual ones. Dancing not only works all of your muscular and circulatory systems, but also you’re respiratory system. Then came along with helping keep our bodily systems strong, dancing also encourages healthy dietary ideals and habits, furthermore dancing encourages good stretching habits and hydration to keep us feeling good physically, emotionally, and spiritually at the end of the day.The health benefits of dancing are one chapter in the bible of ways dancing saves lives.
Another chapter that is important to consider is all of the mental health benefits. An ironic part of the current world paradigm is a lack of intimacy between people. There, of course, is a small counter culture, A.K.A. the arts. However, one would think, with all of our current advances in psychological studies we should not have such struggles anymore. Dancing, and ballroom in particular, forces people to come out of that, so called, bubble. In the ballroom scenario, per say, every dance is partnered, so intimacy is a required to be given and accepted. It really does take two to tango.
Ballroom dance is not only a remedy to low sociability, but ballroom also improves a human’s intellect. When a person dances in a ballroom they have to be aware of the music, as well as how they are moving in time to the music. The ‘how to move’ aspect of dancing teaches the dancer to be much more bodily aware. Body awareness is about not just your body, but your partner’s body and the dancing pairs around you as well. This concept is commonly referred to as floor craft. Mastering any type of dance takes discipline and diligence in order to hone the skill and cement it into the mind. One can only imagine the mental games of chess that take place in the ballroom once the first bar of a song starts. Only the most skilled dancers can stay in contra, move fluently, and look beautiful all to create one illusion of ease and grace.
In essence, there are many historical reasons people love to dance, even as much as to die for it. History and science defend the fact there are personal benefits and graces, as well as physical advantages, which come out of dancing. Dancing and motion can move a man through life wholesomely. Dancing is a movement in itself. Dancing, if utilized philanthropically, can save lives and improve communities.
12 March 2017
Written by Andy Andrews
Edited by Francis Jean Fix