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Popular and Social Dance

Social Dance, Western music, choreographers, focus, dances

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Popular and Social Dance, overlapping terms referring to dances performed by the participants for their own enjoyment and not belonging to any folk tradition. Such dances characteristically emerged among the aristocratic or wealthy in past societies and developed in the urban, mass-media-influenced cultures of the 20th century.

Scholars vary in their usage of the terms popular dance and social dance. Some apply popular dance to dances of the 20th century. Some reserve social dance for the dances of the more urban and often more affluent members of society who gather to see and be seen. Still others consider social dance to encompass not only urban or elite dances but also recreational folk dances (as opposed to ceremonial or ritual folk dances). The focus in this article is on nontraditional, or nonfolk, social dances popular among the elite of past centuries as well as among members of 20th-century, largely urban, society. The steps and patterns of such dances tend to reflect the values and attitudes of society during the periods in which they developed. The dances often cross geographic boundaries and are enjoyed by large numbers of people. Many are rooted in folk dance, and, like recreational folk dances, they can be contrasted with theatrical dance (which is meant for an audience and is performed by highly skilled and trained individuals). Like folk dances, however, popular social dances have often been employed and transformed by choreographers for use in the theater. Although popular and social dance forms exist to some extent in non-Western cultures, they are particularly prominent in Western culture, and throughout their documented history, they have influenced and been influenced by Western music and theater.

Article key phrases:

Social Dance, Western music, choreographers, focus, dances, extent, theater, steps, century, values, audience, periods, article, usage, participants, Scholars, enjoyment, use

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