For me, it started at two years old. That’s when my mom enrolled me in ballet classes, hoping it would help me learn how to walk better and eventually make me a graceful human. I would continue to take dance lessons until I was eleven years old, when I discovered all-star cheerleading. But even then, I was still dancing. Even now, I’m dancing. However and whenever I can. Today, I participate in my school’s dance club, it’s a hobby and exercise rolled into one package. All different types of dance are performed and celebrated— from classical ballet to Caribbean style hip-hop. It’s fun and inclusive— just like dancing should be.
Dancing is integral to many cultures, all races and nationalities have a unique style of dance. It’s a common way to express one’s self. Almost every high school in America has an annual event where students get dressed up and dance in celebration of the end of the school year. Yeah, you guessed it- prom. Your social media feed will fill up with prom pictures from April to June, and there is nothing you can do about it.
And if you like to go out on the weekends, it’s not hard to find loud music and large clumps of sweaty bodies gyrating.
The commonality of the world of dance is something that can be used to connect people. Judson Laipply, a motivational speaker, went viral on YouTube for his “Evolution of Dance” video. This video was a look through all the popular dances of different time periods. It was comical, but also informative of the growth and “evolution” of dancing.
The movie Footloose, both the original and new versions, are great examples of why dance is critical to communities. A city kid comes and sends the entire town into an uproar with his new and dangerous love for rock music and dancing. The other kids love it and want to learn all about him while the adults are sickened by his hip movements and erratic motions. When the kids are given permission to have their senior prom, the whole town comes together for a really touching moment in church, leading to some awesome dance numbers. Dancing has been bringing people together for hundreds of years.
Every era has had their own style of popular dance and different ways to express themselves. Way back when, I’m talking Pride & Prejudice time, people would go to dances hosted by wealthy families. Men and women would take joy in the ability to openly socialize with the other sex, and this is often how the courting process started. Formal dances were a part of the lives of royalty, look no further than Cinderella meeting Prince Charming at the ball.
Who can forget the Roaring 20s? The lavish, Great Gatsby-like parties were a prime place for dancing and drinking. The 1920s gave birth to the shimmy and the Charleston (no, not the Carlton…that’s not until The Fresh Prince of Bel Air aired in the 1990’s) and the classic dance marathons. Who doesn’t want to dance non-stop for 38 hours? Seriously, that’s the world record.
Elvis Presley’s 1950’s hips are still rocking the hearts and souls of women everywhere. Over 400 dances are credited to the 1960s, including the Mashed Potato and Funky Chicken. And who could forget Soul Train and the 70s?
Moving up to the 80s and 90’s, dances are getting different and, in some cases, promiscuous. The popularization of break dancing began, which is just as hard as it looks, by the way. Dirty Dancing, the movie and the dance style, came to life. It was originally due to the sexuality of it: ergo, dirty dancing.
In the 2000’s teens everywhere were introduced to “Teach Me How to Dougie”, and the countless dance along Disney movies. I can’t even try to count the number of times I watched High School Musical trying to learn those dance numbers.
This timeline is just a basic outline for all the ways the dancing world has evolved in an ever-changing world, to encompass everything would take years of writing and cultural research.
Dancing through life is the best way to get through the tough times if you ask me. Whether you’re dancing at someone’s wedding, doing the Electric Slide and Cupid Shuffle, doing Britney Spears choreography in your room alone, or swagging it out at your local dance club, it’s a big part of society. Dance is an art that anyone can participate in, no matter the age or skill level.