Introduction: Dance as Social Life and Cultural Practice


  • Maruša Pušnik University of Ljubljana


Dance occupies an important place in the social structure of all human cultures throughout history. Dance is most commonly defined as a way of human expression through movement. But dance simply cannot be reduced merely to movement. While it is true that movement is indeed a fundamental feature of dance, because dance can also be defined as a specific art movement, based on the expressive moves of the human body, dance is also much more. A number of theoretical definitions of dance define it as a conscious way of rhythmic movements of the body in a defined bounded space, but these either sport-kinesiological or art theories of dance usually overlook many symbolic aspects of dance. In many cases, they reduce dance to its physical component in terms of aesthetically perfected rhythmic physical activity, but they overlook the multiple roles and meanings that dance has for the society in which it appears. The purpose of this anthropology of dance issue is to unfold various meanings and nuances of dance in contemporary societies, with different contributors with different examples from around the (dance) world illustrating how dance can be observed, investigated and theorised in all its variety.