Tuesday, September 20, 2016

From Entertainment to Heritage: The Many Forms of Dance

Dance is part of many people’s lives.  It is celebrated in many forms and is performed for many reasons. The art of dance is often a form of entertainment.  For example, the ballet is a very sophisticated and graceful form of dance entertainment.  People have often attended the ballet to watch such performances as The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty.  Even the theater/movie productions of Oklahoma contain forms of ballet.   Another dance style seen in live performances is the tap dance, in which the dancer’s shoes make a “tap” noise as they come in contact with the floor.  Tap dancing can be seen in a variety of movie productions, such Yankee Doodle Dandy starring James Cagney and Singin’ in the Rain with Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds.  Perhaps one of the most elegant tap dancing movie couples was Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
            Dance also has a romantic side to it.  Many people enjoy dancing with somebody they care about romantically.  There are many styles of dances for couples, including the somewhat simple Country-Western Two-Step to the more graceful ballroom waltz. 
            The heritage of many cultures includes dancing.  Native Americans have many dances they often perform at ceremonies called Pow Wows.  These dances can have a variety of meanings such as to honor somebody or to seek help from a higher power.  Folk dancing, in fact, is a significant part of many cultures. These dances are part of celebrations that honor all types of events such as crop harvests and even fire.  A culture’s dances are an important part of their history and reflect who these people are.
            Dance is also an excellent aid to good health and therapy.  The associated movement can burn calories while aiding with strength and even weight loss.  Even mistakes made on the dance floor can lead to laughter which is good for the heart and mind. Dancing can also be used for therapeutic work. Styles such as break dancing can provide a way for social workers to engage youth and get them moving. 
Make a visit to the dance book display located next to the front doors of the Al Harris Library. While you are there, you can grab a book or a movie and decide what sort of dance interests you today!

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