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by Archaeology Newsroom

Dance in antiquity

Dance was religious and a means of worshipping the gods. In Minoan Crete dance often had to do with the manifestation of a deity. The clay figurines of dancers dating from the Bronze Age that were found in the Agia Irini district on the island of Kea probably have to do with the manifestation (epiphany) of the god Dionysus. There were different kinds of dance in ancient Greece ranging from the modest choral dance which combined orchestral music (orchesis) with song (ode), to the opposite kind of dance, the Bacchic dances. The extreme tension of the dancers in ecstatic dances can be seen in the“passionate motifs” depicted in images of the time. Plato mentions peaceful, melodic dance known as “emmelia”. These dances were of a social and religious nature. He also mentions the war dance “pyrrichio” and the bacchic dance where the dancers made obscene gestures. The pyrrhic war dance can be seen on vases of the 5th century BC, usually danced by naked women.