The origins of some of the world's most beautiful dances

April 24, 2019

Dance — whether choreographed or spontaneous — is one of the most remarkable modes of human communication. In many cultures, dance has both historic and cultural significance, which is communicated through learned gestures and expressions.Here’s a bit more detail about three of the world’s most beautiful dances::


Origins: Kerala, southwestern India

Significance: Kathakali is a storytelling dance, during which performers use a variety of gestures, and eye and facial expressions to communicate meaning. Costumes, hair styles, makeup and face paint, and jewellery also all hold specific meaning in the performance of kathakali, which helps the performer tell the story he or she is there to convey.

Watch: The performer’s eyes. There are nine facial expressions used in kathakali, which are known as navarasas. They’re used to express emotions ranging from sadness and rage to curiosity and disgust. The expressions are exaggerated; it should be completely clear to the viewer what the performer is intending to convey.

See it on: Iconic India


Origins: The Rio de Plata, which borders Uruguay and Argentina

Significance: The dance has its roots in an African slave dance called candombe (which is also a type of music). One component of a candombe performance is a partnered dance, which has over time evolved into the modern tango, as we now know it.

Watch: If you can keep your eyes on one part of the tango, make it the dancers’ legs and feet. The tango is typically performed low to the ground, with both performers’ step-work often taking place in sync. It’s complex, communicative, and deeply sensual.

See it on: Discover Patagonia


Origins: Spain, most likely the Andalucia region

Significance: One of the more interesting facts about the flamenco is that it began as a song: a cry or song which was accompanied by a tempo pounded out on the floor. Over time — a period that spans roughly 200 years — flamenco evolved to include its now-famous fiery, passionate accompanying dance, which is characterized by a dancer (or dancers) whose body, arms, and facial expressions convey the ardent passion inherent to the music.

Watch: The performer’s hands. One of the key components of flamenco are palmas, which are the hand-claps that serve as a percussive accompaniment. It may look like simple, rhythmic clapping, but palmas are performed at different tempos, speeds, and strengths, and it is essential that the flamenco dancer understand how — and when — to utilize his or her hands as part of the performance.

See it on: Discover Moorish Spain

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