Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

Early History of Dance

  • Page ID
  • Music historians believe that rhythm came first as an accompaniment to rituals of birth, coming of age, planting and harvesting, death and burial.  These rituals are considered early forms of dance which has been traced back 30,000 years.

    Egyptians had highly elaborate dance ceremonies in which they imitated the movement of heavenly bodies.  Pharaohs required slaves to entertain them with dances of unusual acrobatic skills.

    The Hebrew Bible refers to dance as an expression of joy as when Miriam dances in celebration of the Red Sea escape from Pharaoh’s soldiers.

    In the 13th century, an Islamic spiritual leader named Mevlana Rumi established a religious sect, the Mevlevi Order.  It’s members took part in a ritual still practiced today. Known as whirling dervishes, they turned faster and faster until they achieved a trancelike state in which they believed their souls were liberated from earthly bondage and allowed direct union with Allah.

    The Art of Being Human, Janero and Altschuler

    • Was this article helpful?