Intransitive verb: to engage in or perform a dance; to move or seen to move up and down or about in a quick lively manner 

Transitive verb: to perform or take part in as a dancer

Merriam Webster. (2011). Dance. Retrieved from 


History of Dance

Dance became a forum for purposeful social activity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Elaborate balls provided men with an opportunity to seek his wife and share time with family and friends.  The social institution of dance allowed an individual to communicate through the use of non-verbal movements since early Americans were restricted in their forms of communication. 

America welcomed a variety of dances from Europe, England, and France.  At the time, America was the land of opportunity and allowed the social acceptance of dance thus opening the doors for a blend of new dances as well as old. Americans took to emulating European trends in dance, fashion, and etiquette in order to establish their position in society. Those who possessed the most wealth and prestige were able to afford the most luxurious ballroom accessories and were regarded as social elite.

As the gestures and customs mandated by social dancing were uniform and precise, they additionally took on a new dimension as a sort of secondary language.  Due to the inefficiency of communication, language carried with it diverse implications.  A man or woman could make use of his or her accessories to imply certain phrases to others in the ballroom.  So as not to seem brazen and uncouth, flirtation between men and women was carried out by careful handling of ballroom accessories including handkerchiefs, fans, parasols, and gloves.  Gestures made with these objects sent out clear yet delicate messages, as they did not attract the attention of bystanders.  By simply twisting a handkerchief in her right hand, a lady could communicate to an interested gentleman her love for another man; not a word would pass between the two parties, and the gentleman could move on without feeling the sting of verbal rejection. By holding her gloves with the tips facing downward, a lady could illustrate her wish to be acquainted with a particular gentleman.  A lady could imply her distaste for a gentleman by drawing her fan through her hand or, with a parasol, she could instruct a gentleman to get rid of his company by folding it up in his presence. 

The grand balls, seasonal masques, and elaborate private dinner parties were also opportunities for one to become acquainted with possible mates.  For the upper classes, these events afforded the only acceptable means of meeting a partner and were therefore understandably highly anticipated and sensationalized.  A ball or impromptu party might feature any combination of different dances, depending on what was most popular at the time. Though the dance trends varied through the years and among class lines, one thing was certain: where there was dancing, joyfulness followed. 

You can find the full history at


This free website was made using Yola.

No HTML skills required. Build your website in minutes.

Go to and sign up today!

Make a free website with Yola