Is ballet a social dance? – Old Folk Dances
Dance isn’t the only art form that’s social (as you probably already know): the theatrical arts are as much a part of our social life as the opera, the ballet, and the opera house. It was, and is, the art where most people meet, interact and express their feelings. Dances may have been one of the first forms of social interaction, though it wasn’t until centuries later (we can’t really know) that these dances became a social activity.
However, dancing evolved into a social tool much earlier than these other arts, and it can be seen as being related, though not identical, to the other arts.
In the late 19th-20th centuries, for example, the social element of some dances had been brought into the mainstream by the rise of the new Hollywood style of dramatic dancing—its popularity paralleled by the growth of the theater industry which included professional dancers. And the dance culture was being recognized by the dance halls, where these dances were being performed (and, in many cases, performed to great success).
At the same time, the growing popularity of musical and dramatic theater, especially musical theater, had begun to affect audiences’ desire to dance more often and create new dances (this may explain why, by the early 1970s, “daring” is the title given to some of the most popular dances in the early 1900s).
Dances like “the Stroll,” “the Turn-Stroke,” and “the Ballet-Turn” show a number of these similarities. The following dance demonstrates another important connection between dance and social interaction.
Dancing on a stage—in other words, dancing as people interact—is an expression of the social emotions that dance itself brings about. Just as it changes what dance is by changing the people participating, it also changes what dance culture is by changing the kind of social interaction going on in it.
In this dance, all dancers are sitting in the front rows waiting for their turn to move. To start each time, one person stands up at the front of the stage with a pair of short twills called “socks” wrapped around both toes. Her partner, standing next to her or standing at the back, stands with some other “sock” underneath his or her toes. To start the next time, the partner picks up the sock that is under hers. As the dancers walk, the person who has the sock goes first or the person who has the sock
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