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Shall We Dance?

Take to the floor with us!

BY CORNELIA KUMFERT  

LOVE, PASSION, GRIEF-few other dances express as many emotions as the tango. It first became respectable in Paris at the start of the 20th century and was soon taking the rest of the world by storm-including Argentina, the country it originated from, where it had long been looked down on because of its association with the poorest areas of Buenos Aires.  

 

THE RIO CARNIVAL without samba dancers? Unthinkable! And yet, this quintessentially Brazilian dance doesn't even originate in Brazil. According to one theory, the rhythmical samba has its roots in the African 'semba', a belly-bumping dance that was brought to Brazil by slaves taken there from their homeland.

YOU'RE LIKELY TO HEAR
English Morris dancers before you see them. The large pads adorned with tiny bells that they wear strapped to their shins noisily proclaim their arrival. The origins of Morris dancing are uncertain. However, some people claim that even the druids used to perform the Morris dance inside their stone circles.

KING LOUIS XIV of France was a passionate dancer who founded the world's first ballet school in 1661. The Académie Royale de Danse was the birthplace of classical ballet. The Sun King appointed the celebrated dancer Pierre Beauchamps as its first director. During his tenure, Beauchamps invented ballet's five basic foot positions that are still taught today.

KUNG FU, GYMNASTIC FLOOR exercises and elements of Brazilian martial art dancing-breakdancing has something of everything. Originating on the streets of New York in the early 1970s, today this erstwhile street dance has long since made it on to the big stage. Dancers from all over the globe compete against each other to a hip-hop beat at the annual world championships.

RAQS SHARQI
means 'the dance of the East'. Better known as belly dancing, it is one of the oldest dances in the world. However, the spread of Christianity and Islam led to the virtual disappearance of this highly sensual dance style from public life. It was not until the 1893 World's Fair that belly dancing became a global sensation, thanks to the performance of a Syrian dancer.

SNOW-WHITE GOWNS for the ladies, black tails for the gentlemen-anyone wishing to make their debut at the Vienna Opera Ball will need to adhere to a strict dress code. The reward for the lucky debutants and debutantes chosen to form part of the 'young ladies and gentlemen's committee' is the chance to open the Austrian capital's premier ball by dancing-what else?-a Viennese waltz.

DANCERS RHYTHMICALLY STRIKING their thighs, calves and the soles of their shoes-the Schuhplattler may seem random, but it follows a complex sequence of steps requiring excellent balance and intense concentration. This folk dance is particularly popular in Bavaria, South Tyrol and Austria. Legend has it that the dance imitates the courtship display of the capercaillie, a member of the grouse family.

FLAMENCO is a mixture of song, dance and guitar. For years, this Spanish, or more accurately Andalusian, dance was reserved for women. The bailaora performs her dance merely as an accompaniment to the often melancholic music. Heavily influenced by the Romani people, flamenco can be described as the art of the oppressed.     

 

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