The first known recorded dance to be danced at a public gathering by people of all different groups was a performance by the German poet Wertheimer (circa 1612-1616), who was probably influenced by ancient Babylonian customs, and the ancient Greek dancing styles of the same period of the sixth century BC. The dances developed by Wertheimer and others at the court of the Danish king Harald Bluetooth of Saxony in the 8th century CE were adapted to a local audience but eventually became a very popular and well-renowned dance for the court and other public gatherings.
The dances that gave birth to the modern “social dance” tradition of the 20th and 21st centuries were first developed during the 18th century by the French dance artist Georges Bizet. The first official dance of the French government, and the most powerful dance in Paris for many years, was the “French Dance,” a performance by Bizet and other leading artists. Bizet’s dancing was a combination of traditional Greek and Hellenistic dances with the latest innovations. In the 1820s, he began to popularize the idea of incorporating elements of Indian dancing into French dance, which is still largely performed today, along with the popular Irish dance, “Waltzing Matilda.” As more and more people began to see the connection between Bizet and the ancient Greek and Greek-influenced dancing of ancient Egypt, he saw an opportunity to “invent” something completely new. He developed his innovative “Swinging Figure” dance (Bizet 1818/1839). The French government later modified the dances of the 18th and 19th centuries, but not until the middle of the 19th century did the first formal dance of its kind be invented, the “French Figaro Dance” by the French dancer, Pierre Houdin and his partner, Count Alexandre Houdin. Houdin introduced a new style of dancing that incorporated all of the most important elements of ancient Egyptian dances: a circle dance with back and leg turns, a back swinging dance, a front swinging dance, and many other “new dance” styles were introduced in many European cities between 1840 and 1866.
As an early example of modern social dancing, as part of her performance at an evening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1915, the Austrian dancer Sophie Von Bäumling, was the star of an enormous show of dancing. Her dance, which took place on a stage at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
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