Ancient Greek Dance

Categories: DanceGreek

“The Dance, of all the arts, is the one that most influences the soul.

Dancing is divine a theatrical performanceand performance andgirls girls is the gift of God.”


Ancient civilizations are the basis of our modern world. And Ancient Greece probably has more contribution to this foundation than any other civilization. Ancient Greece has a great influence on all civilizations beginning from Ancient Rome to the modern world. Ancient Greece inspired the world in such areas as government, philosophy, architecture, theatre, and art.

That civilization is, undoubtedly, provided the foundation of the modern “western word”. We can trace the influence of Ancient Greece culture in all main aspects of our modern world. Ancient Greek philosophy gave the way of thinking that provided the base for the Western intellectual tradition. Ancient Greece gave the world such great philosophers as Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, and many others. Ancient Greece was one of the first democratic societies and its ideas had a huge influence on forming modern democratic governments.

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Ancient Greek art shaped our idea of art. Architecture is also one obvious area of influence: the downtowns of many of the great cities of Europe, as well as of most major cities in the USA are built under Ancient Greek architecture influence. Many modern plays and movies are based on elements of Greek mythology. Another very important part of Ancient Greek culture was Dance. According to Greek notion, the dance communicated its truth, wisdom, and feelings as effectively as words. Ancient Greece had a strong dancing tradition.

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Learning to dance is considered a necessary part of education. Plato said: 'The well-educated man can learn to sing and dance well. Dance in Ancient Greece was an essential part of religious festivals, entertainment, and theatrical performances. According to The Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Music and dance were essential to the pattern and texture of Greek life, as it was an important feature of religious festivals, marriage and funeral rites, and banquet gatherings.'

Dance is prevalent in Greece and is performed for diverse events. Archaeologists found a lot of evidence of the variety of dances, as well as information about dancers and objects used by them. Another source of information about ancient dance is literature. Greek epics and the writings of historians and philosophers include names of dances and its description. Through dance, Ancient Greeks celebrated events such as birth, marriage, praying, and death. In Greek society, professional dancers were hired for feasts and celebrations, weddings, and funerals. The movements of dances included ritualistic or symbolic gestures, accompanied by music. For example, symbolic movement and gestures of funeral dances included twisting hands, beating chests or thighs, or scratching faces.

Dances made possible communication between humans and the Gods. Ancient Greeks danced in blessed places to honor the gods. For example, Dionysus, the god of fertility and wine, had great influence over the Greeks dances. Ancient Greeks held Dionysian feasts that honored the earth and fertility. Dancers performed crazy and wild dances for Dionysus. The women dancers were named after mythological beings - maenads. The men dancers - satyrs, wore goatskins and horned masks. They performed orgiastic dances and believed that the god entered their minds and bodies and controlled their actions. These wild and crazy dances for the god Dionysus gave a rise to a circular dance that moved around the altar. In general, Greek mythology had a huge influence on dance culture. These dances that first were performed in honor of Gods later moved out of temples and developed from religious rituals into a theatrical performances. In Ancient Greek culture poetry, drama, music, and dance were intertwined.

Another interesting fact is that daThenand girlsnce was part of boys' and girlsgirls'  education. Training with weapons and performing war and victory dances was an essential part of a young Greek man's education. The,influenced ancient Greek vases depicted girls dancing with clappers and other subjects, under the supervision of instructors. Also women performed some of the men's military dances to make them strong for childbearing.

It is also interesting that Ancient Greek dance influenced modern dance too. The American dancer Isadora Duncan was inspired by images of tempting Greek dancers in Grecian tunics at Dionysian festivals. She developed a dance technique influenced by the dance of the ancient Greeks. She believed that Ancient Greek dance would be a part of the 'natural and free dance of the future.'

It seems that dance covered all aspects of Ancient Greeks life. It is very notable that philosophers paid great attention to dancing in their writings and described dances, classified and explained the movement of dances. These all speak about the significant social meaning and value of dance. The relationship between dance and society is mutual, they shape each other. Dance is a product of society. On the one hand, dance spreads messages of society by creating images and stories. Society, on the other hand, assimilates lessons and pleasure from dance.

Dance has always been a part of human lives, throughout all human history – from ancient humans to the modern urban individual. Of course, the reasons and motivations why people dance was different in different times and different cultures. But one thing is true for all times and for all cultures: dance is a way to express personal desires and aspirations, and social connections. In “Studying Dance Cultures Around the World,” Vissicaro says, “Dance creates a bridge for traversing cultural borders because fundamentally it involves the human body, something that all people have in common”. In other words, the language of dance is the language that is understandable to everyone. We can trace the changes and development of dance, its diversity, and the fusion of different forms of dance throughout human history. Dance was and always will be the reflection of social and cultural changes that take place in our world.

Updated: Aug 22, 2022
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Ancient Greek Dance. (2022, Aug 22). Retrieved from

Ancient Greek Dance essay
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