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Dance

The many forms of dance provide entertainment for all age groups and cultures. Dance can be serious in tone, such as when it is used to express a culture's history or important stories; it may be provocative; or it may put in the service of comedy. Since it combines many forms of entertainment – music, movement, storytelling, theatre – it provides a good example of the various ways that these forms can be combined to create entertainment for different purposes and audiences.

Dance is "a form of cultural representation" that involves not just dancers, but "choreographers, audience members, patrons and impresarios ... coming from all over the globe and from vastly varied time periods." Whether from Africa, Asia or Europe, dance is constantly negotiating the realms of political, social, spiritual and artistic influence."Even though dance traditions may be limited to one cultural group, they all develop. For example, in Africa, there are "Dahomean dances, Hausa dances, Masai dances and so forth."Ballet is an example of a highly developed Western form of dance that moved to the theatres from the French court during the time of Louis XIV, the dancers becoming professional theatrical performers. Some dances, such as the quadrille, a square dance that "emerged during the Napoleonic years in France" and other country dances were once popular at social gatherings like balls, but are now rarely performed. On the other hand, many folk dances (such as Scottish Highland dancing and Irish dancing), have evolved into competitions, which by adding to their audiences, has increased their entertainment value. "Irish dance theatre, which sometimes features traditional Irish steps and music, has developed into a major dance form with an international reputation."
Since dance is often "associated with the female body and women's experiences", female dancers, who dance to entertain, have in some cases been regarded as distinct from "decent" women because they "use their bodies to make a living instead of hiding them as much as possible". Society's attitudes to female dancers depend on the culture, its history and the entertainment industry itself. For example, while some cultures regard any dancing by women as "the most shameful form of entertainment", other cultures have established venues such as strip clubs where deliberately erotic or sexually provocative dances such as striptease are performed in public by professional women dancers for mostly male audiences.

Various political regimes have sought to control or ban dancing or specific types of dancing, sometimes because of disapproval of the music or clothes associated with it. Nationalism, authoritarianism and racism have played a part in banning dances or dancing. For example, during the Nazi regime, American dances such as swing, regarded as "completely un-German", had "become a public offense and needed to be banned".[109] Similarly, in Shanghai, China, in the 1930s, "dancing and nightclubs had come to symbolise the excess that plagued Chinese society" and officials wondered if "other forms of entertainment such as brothels" should also be banned. Banning had the effect of making "the dance craze" even greater.In Ireland, the Public Dance Hall Act of 1935 "banned – but did not stop – dancing at the crossroads and other popular dance forms such as house and barn dances." In the US, various dances were once banned, either because like burlesque, they were suggestive, or because, like the Twist, they were associated with African Americans. "African American dancers were typically banned from performing in minstrel shows until after the Civil War."
Dances can be performed solo (1, 4); in pairs, (2, 3); in groups, (5, 6, 7); or by massed performers (10). They might be improvised (4, 8) or highly choreographed (1, 2, 5, 10); spontaneous for personal entertainment, (such as when children begin dancing for themselves); a private audience, (4); a paying audience (2); a world audience (10); or an audience interested in a particular dance genre (3, 5). They might be a part of a celebration, such as a wedding or New Year (6, 8); or a cultural ritual with a specific purpose, such as a dance by warriors like a haka (7). Some dances, such as traditional dance in 1 and ballet in 2, need a very high level of skill and training; others, such as the can-can, require a very high level of energy and physical fitness. Entertaining the audience is a normal part of dance but its physicality often also produces joy for the dancers themselves (9)

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