Definitions of what constitutes dance can depend on social and cultural norms and aesthetic, artistic and moral sensibilities. Definitions may range from functional movement (such as folk dance) to virtuoso techniques such as ballet. Martial arts kata are often compared to dances, and sports such as gymnastics, figure skating and synchronized swimming are generally thought to incorporate dance.
There are many styles and genres of dance. African dance is interpretative. Ballet, ballroom and tango are classical dance styles. Square dance and electric slide are forms of step dance, and breakdancin is a type of street
dance. Dance can be participatory, social, or performed for an audience. It can also be ceremonial, competitive
or erotic. Dance movements may be without significance in themselves, as in ballet or European folk dance, or have a gestural vocabulary or symbolic meaning as in some Asian dances.
Choreography is the art of creating dances. The person who creates (i.e., choreographs) a dance is known as the
History of dance
Dance does not leave behind clearly identifiable physical artifacts such as stone tools, hunting implements or cave
paintings. It is not possible to say when dance became part of human culture, but archeological evidence indicates dance has been an important part of ceremony, rituals, celebrations and entertainment since the earliest human civilizations.
One of the earliest structured uses of dances may have been the telling of myths. Before the invention of written languages, dance was one of the methods of passing stories down from generation to generation. Dance was also used to show feelings for one of the opposite gender. It is also linked to the origin of "love making." Another early use of dance may have been as a precursor to ecstatic trance states in healing rituals. Dance is still
used for this purpose by many cultures from the Brazilian rainforest to the Kalahari Desert.
Many contemporary dance forms are related to aboriginal, mythical devils known as "yakkas", and according to local legend, Kandyan dance began as a ritual that broke the magic spell on a bewitched king.