The first dance forms, dating from primitive
times, were more ritualistic, and it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that
dancing as a social activity appeared. Dance as entertainment began with
ballet in sixteenth-century France. The following century saw the rise
of popular dances around Europe, and some made their way to the United
States, where we have since witnessed numerous trends, from rock and
roll to disco to hip-hop.
Our Dance collection focuses especially on ballet and
modern dance but includes a sampling of other forms, such as Spanish
flamenco, Hungarian folk dancing, and kathak, the ancient, storytelling
dance of India. Though ballet began in France, it reached full glory in
Russia, which has cultivated an endless list of superb dancers and
choreographers, many of whom have come to the West and shared their
exquisite technique with others.
Our coverage of modern dance reveals the full range of
experimentation that began with Isadora Duncan and others in the early
twentieth century, took a new direction under the leadership of Martha
Graham, and continued on with Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Paul
Taylor, Twyla Tharp, and others. For an astute assessment of the
choreographers, dancers, and companies impacting the dance scene today,
delve into our Dance collection.