Dance is part of many

Dance is part of many systems of belief about the universe that deal with the nature and mystery of human existence and involve feelings, thoughts, and actions. From a comparative worldwide perspective, dance may be seen as human behavior composed (from the dancer’s point of view) of purposeful, intentionally rhythmical, and culturally patterned sequences of nonverbal body movements in time, in space, and with effort.

Different from ordinary motor activities, these movements have inherent and “aesthetic” values; that is, they have both appropriateness and competency. According to historical and anthropological research, people dance to express an awareness that is often difficult to express in words, and to fulfill a range of intentions and functions that change over time. Perceptions of orthodoxy and authenticity vary.

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People dance to explain religion, to create and recreate social roles, to worship or honor, to conduct supernatural beneficence, to effect change, to embody or merge with the supernatural through inner or external transformations, to reveal divinity through dance creation, to help themselves, and to entertain. Specific knowledge of dance practices associated with the supernatural is acquired through initiation, divination, oracle, observation, and copying.


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