Dancing Facts
Dancing Facts

45 Graceful Dancing Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published February 19, 2018Updated October 4, 2019
  • The San, or Bushmen, created one of the earliest depictions of dancing in their rock art. Dating from 10,000 years ago in Africa, the art shows San shamans performing trancelike dances in an attempt to commune with the spirit world.[4]
  • The youngest ballerinas ever to play leading roles were the "Baby Ballerinas" who danced with the Ballets Russes in 1933. Irina Baronova was just 13 years old, Tamara Toumanova was 14, and Tatiana Riabouchinska was 15.[4]
  • In ancient Greek mythology, nine muses were associated with each one of the arts. Terpischore was the muse of dancing.[4]
  • The most curtain calls ever for a ballet was 89, after Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fanteyn performed their 1964 Swan Lake in Vienna.[4]
  • Some pop singers create their own dances to fit their songs. For example, Michael Jackson created the "moonwalk" for his hit "Thriller" in 1982.[4]
  • Dancing Facts
    Léotard wanted to make sure his muscles couldn't be missed
  • The leotard is named after its inventor, Jules Léotard, a French acrobat who performed the first flying trapeze act in 1859. He wore his tight-fitting ensamble to show off his muscles.[4]
  • The most popular ballet in the world is Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, which was first performed in 1892.[4]
  • Lipizzaner stallions are trained to dance a Grande Quadrille, a dance that involves up to eight horses (and riders) all in step.[4]
  • Michael Flately of Riverdance  holds the record for the world's highest-paid dancer, earning $1.8 million a week at his prime. His legs were insured for $44.7 million.[4]
  • In 1996, approximately 72,000 people gathered to do the chicken dance at a fair in Ohio, setting the record for the largest dance in modern history.[4]
  • In 1998, the largest tap dance on record occurred when 6,952 tap dancers tapped in Stuttgart, Germany
  • In 1996, David Meenan set the record for the farthest dance when he tap-danced over 23 miles (37 km).[4]
  • People who dance tend to have higher self-esteem and are more positive.[4]
  • Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.

    - Voltaire

  • The record for the longest conga line was set when nearly 12,000 people conga-ed in Miami, Florida, on March 13, 1988.[4]
  • First performed in 1999, the Sandpaper Ballet includes a musical number that sounds just like someone scratching sandpaper.[4]
  • The Greek word chora, meaning "source of joy," is related to the word choros, the Greek word for "dance."[4]
  • According to Plato, dance "gave the body its just proportions."[4]
  • In many religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, dance is a part of worship, and dancing figures are often found in shrines and temples.[4]
  • In 1913, the German army and navy prohibited any personnel from dancing the tango.[4]
  • During one of Elvis Presley's early performances, cameras would only show him from the waist up. The gyrating movement of his hips was considered shocking.[4]
  • In ancient Greece, dance was seen as a gift from the gods. The main qualities of dance, such as order and rhythm, were also qualities of the gods.[4]
  • History of Dance
    There are over 10,000 traditional dances that come from all regions of Greece

  • In bharata natya, a classical Indian dance, performers decorate their feet instead of wearing dance shoes.[4]
  • In some parts of southern and western Africa, dancers perform on stilts up to six feet (2 meters) high. Their dance symbolizes that the key to human wisdom is finding the right balance.[4]
  • Widely considered the "Mother of Modern Dance," Martha Graham (1894–1991) called dancers "athletes of God."[4]
  • "The Dancing Plagues," or dancing manias, occurred sporadically throughout Western Europe from the 14th to the 17th centuries. For reasons unknown, people, sometimes hundreds at a time, danced until they collapsed from exhaustion or died.[11]
  • A father of three collapsed and died from a heart attack after dancing to Psy’s “Gangnam Style” at his office Christmas party in Blackburn, England.[8]
  • Originating in the 1970s in the Bronx, breakdancing was created as a "less lethal" form of fighting.[1]
  • Tupac Fact
    Yes, as a teenager, Tupac was a ballet dancer
  • Rapper Tupac Shakur was a ballet dancer. He was a member of the 127th Street Ensemble, a Harlem-based theater company.[3]
  • African slaves transported from Brazil were prohibited from practicing martial arts, so they created a dance form called capoeira. A mix of dancing and fighting, capoeira reflects an intense desire for freedom.[10]
  • Dancers and choreographers rank first as the professions with the highest divorce rates. Bartenders and massage therapists round out the top three.[6]
  • Dancers at an Italian wedding invented ballet in 1495. At the banquet, the performers' dances represented the dishes that were being served. Broccoli dance, anyone?[5]
  • Funk and soul singer James Brown's 1971 hit "Get the Good Foot" gave rise to a new dance craze called "The Good Foot." This trend influenced the development of "breakdancing."[7]
  • St. Vitus is the patron saint of dancers, actors, and epilepsy.[9]
  • "Rumba" is from the Spanish word rumbear, meaning to have a party or a good time. It's the slowest of the Latin dances and has its roots in religious and ceremonial African dances.[7]
  • Choreographer Kenny Ortega not only choreographed the highly popular High School Musical, he also choreographed Dirty Dancing (1987), Madonna's "Material Girl" (1985), and Michael Jackson's album Dangerous (1991).[7]
  • Ballerina Pierina Legnani performed 32 fouettes (extremely fast turns on one foot) as Odile/Odette in Swan Lake. No one has broken her record.[4]
  • Ballet Facts
    Every time a dancer jumps on pointe, three times her body weight falls on the tip of her big toe

  • The word "disco" is from the French discotheque, meaning "library of phonograph records."[7]
  • The movie Footloose is based on a true story about a town that outlawed dancing until local high schoolers successful challenged the law in 1979.[2]
  • Salsa is derived from the Spanish word for "sauce," and refers to the hot and spicy flavor of the dance.[7]
  • The cha-cha-chá has its origins in West Indian ritual dances. It gets its name from "cha-chas," a musical rattle filled with seed pods that was used by traditional voodoo bands.[7]
  • The beautiful Korean buchaechum, or fan dance, derived from ancient nature rites. The dancers use large, flower-painted fans to make patterns representing waves, trees, or blossoms.[7]
  • The word "waltz" comes from waltzen, which is German for glide or turn. Initially, the dance was declared "shocking" and "sinful."[7]
  • Whirling Dervish Fact
    The Whirling Dervishes are also known as the Mevlevi (mustafagull / GettyImages)
  • The Whirling Dervishes (Mevlevi) are famous for the unique whirling dances, which symbolize the rotation of the universe in the presence of God.[7]
  • For over 1,000 years, the Japanese performed a battle dance called onikenbai (demon sword dance) that involved stomping on the ground to ward off evil spirits. The name kenbai is derived from henbai, which means "stepping firmly on the ground."

  • The "gumboot" dance originated in the gold mines of South Africa. Because the miners were forbidden to talk, they communicated by stomping their feet and slapping their boots (gumboots), which evolved into a form of dance. 
  • Dazzling Dance Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Fun Dancing Infographic

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