According to a recent suggestion made by Joseph Jordania, dance together with body painting and rhythmic music, was a tool used by the natural selection's forces in the early ages of mankind's development for putting human groups into a certain state of battle trance. He explains that it was a very particular alternative state of consciousness.
By it, individual would lose their personal identity and acquire a new type of identity, a collective one. According to Jonathan Pieslak's researches, some contemporary military units have the habit of singing loud and dancing in order to get ready for the perilous combat mission they are about to embark on.
Jordania says that dance's ability to induce this state of trance comes from the past of the human development and it also includes some sort of military drill which also relies on sharing rhythmical and monotonous group activity.
Dance has existed from the beginnings of time. Perhaps it even appeared before the very first tribes were formed, but most certainly dance grew in popularity with the development of tribal life. So dance has always been a part of people's lives, although they did sometimes perform more than the entertainment function.
Dances just had to be based on themes such as death, birth, the revival of nature in springtime, marriage, the teenagers' growing up, hunting, winning a battle or war with one's neighbors. Dance was also used for worshiping gods, agriculture, sexuality, chasing away evil spirits or for prosperity bringing rituals.
In time, dance lost all of these significances so that today it is only a form of art. It also has a communicative function among the participants. Aristotle explained the origins of rhythm by referring to one's heart beats, the perfect metronome.
Many types of dances appeared throughout time, which had different meanings but one single purpose, that of revealing the most elaborate movements, the moral conduct, the manners and the elegance of the dancer.
In the European culture the very first record of dancing belongs to Homer. In his "Iliad", Homer describes "chorea"(χορεία khoreia). The early ancient Greeks had turned the dance art into a sort of system, encompassing and expressing all the other different passions.
For instance, the dance of the so-called "Furies" could generally create a very realistic atmosphere of terror and horrors, so that the audience was deeply moved. Dancing was ranked by the famous Greek philosopher named Aristotle with poetry.
He said that certain dancers are able to apply rhythm to their gestures in such a way that they could actually express actions, manners, passions. What is interesting to know here is that the most prominent Greek sculptors closely studied and observed dancers' attitude and movements in order to find inspiration in their art works.
In the beginning, there wasn't any big difference between folk and social dances but in time they gained some other aspects. The minuet was from the 17th century on, a dance of elegance because it was practiced at the aristocratic courts.
Waltz was quite popular during its age but also quite controversial because of the close distance between the two dance partners. The two World Wars have reshaped the entire dance fashion. So in the 20th century foxtrot and shimmy appeared. From the Swing improvisations of the 40s Jitterbug also appeared.
In the American style, there are rhythmical and smooth dances. The "rhythmical" category of the American style is similar to the Latin-American one of the international style, the same as the "smooth" category is similar to the "standard" category.
Ballroom dance could be considered a social dance because it encourages social interaction, and also because partners dance in pairs. The typical principles can be applied to any type of dance, be it rock, disco or classical waltz and this is because the ballroom dance has strict tempo of 3/4 or 4/4.
Out of the international or Latin-American dances the most notorious rhythms include: meringue, salsa, mambo, bossa nova etc. All these can be included in the Latino section of the international class, together with rumba, cha-cha-cha, samba, paso doble and jive. The standard section includes Viennese Waltz, slow Waltz, Tango, Slow Fox, Quick Step, etc.