Ballet, tango, Bharatnatyam, séga, kwassa kwassa… even the floss and macarena! Dance is everywhere and in practically every culture. But when did humans first learn to move with rhythm and grace?
Click start to play today’s Word Search, where you can spot different styles of dance from around the world.
Dance has been around since the Paleolithic era, roughly 2.5 million years ago. Archaeologists know this from cave paintings depicting dance-like movements. In primitive societies, dances were part of rituals performed for benefits, like food, children, rain and a bountiful harvest.
But it wasn’t until prehistoric times that ancient civilisations began to realise that dance could be used for aesthetic purposes, too. India, China, Egypt and ancient Greece are among the first civilisations with recorded anecdotes of dance.
India’s 10,000-year-old Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh, for instance, comprise the oldest-known rock art in India. Its paintings depict Mesolithic figures dancing, with some of them even using trident-like staffs in the dance. And in Egypt, music and dance were integral to people's communion with deities. There are a significant number of paintings in the country, depicting dancers in pairs, groups, or alone, and also several tomb paintings depicting people participating in funeral dances.
In our Word Search today, you can find dance styles that are more modern than the ones preserved in cave or tomb paintings. The “frug” (pronounced ‘froog’), for instance, is a 1960s dance step that is essentially just a shaking of the hips. It's often the footwork that accompanies arm-based dances like the "swim" (where people imitate swim strokes) or "hitch-hiker" (where dancers pretend they are asking for a lift, by sticking out their thumbs).
Another word, “kathak”, comes from the Subcontinent – it is one of the eight major forms of Indian classical dance, and traces its origins to the ancient travelling bards in northern India, who were known as Kathakars or storytellers.