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Spinning and twirling, the material flows outward, creating an illusion of flying, similar to wings being uplifted by the wind. Dancing takes on many forms during the medieval ages, but watching the Whirling Dervishes, with layers and layers of cloth floating in mid-air was indeed a breathtaking experience. Dervishes were a form of religious dance, but there were many other forms of dance also. From the staunch Court Dance, to the wild paganistic gestures, dance played a major part in the lives of the people living in the medieval era. The Medieval ages ran the gamut of styles and technique. Looking at a time line of about a thousand years, the middle ages began at different points for different cultures. Shortly after the fall of Rome, somewhere around 500 AD, until the Renaissance of the 1500s, many cultures were influenced by outside influences and took on combined rituals and experiences. Some of the earliest dance forms were handed down from previous generations. Such art forms as belly dancing, is only one that has lasted unto the 21st century. More than just entertainment, many of the other dances were created to fit the different societies that arose in the land areas. There was a major difference in the dances presented in the Western or European communities, from those in the Mediterranean areas. Europe underwent major changes. With the introduction of the feudal society, classes of people were defined and peasants heavily relied upon the protection of the Lords. During this time, the role that dance played in medieval life was very significant and largely depended on what class one was in. Certain dances were meant for the higher classes or the courtier and the peasants performed other dances. The peasants were fond of pre-Christianity pagan ritualistic dance while the upper classes used dance as part of their tradition to enforce hierarchy and order. (Liz, 2002). The clothing worn by the peasants was also very different from that being worn by the upper classes. "Peasant men wore stockings or tunics, while women wore long gowns with sleeveless tunics and wimples to cover their hair. The outer clothes were almost never laundered, but the linen underwear was regularly washed." (The middle ages). The clothing of the aristocracy was more elaborate and changed along with the fashion trends. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, wealthy men wore hose and a jacket, often with pleating or skirting, or a tunic with a surcoat. "Women wore flowing gowns and elaborate headwear, ranging from headdresses shaped like hearts or butterflies to tall steeple caps and Italian turbans."(The middle ages). There is very interesting history that goes along with some of the dances of the Medieval era. Two of the more popular dances with versions that still exist in the 21st century are, the Carol, and the Farandole. Liz states both of these dances use a follow-the-leader technique (2002). The Carol was a dance that called for the singers to accompany themselves while dancing. Carolers would link themselves together by holding hands in a circle to perform this dance. An example of a Carol, Ring-around-the-rosy, developed during the time of the plague may have implications of the deadly disease. "The farandole was a specific type of carol that was always danced in a line, or chain"
"A form of the farandole that still exists today has become children's song-and-dance game London Bridge is Falling Down', although in Medieval Europe adults as well as children danced the farandole" (Liz, 2002, Farandole). The May Dance also has a fascinating history. It was a native tradition to many cultures throughout the world. It was a fertility ritual that was danced in the spring mainly by women. In some communities the dance was restricted to virgins. The dancers would circle a large pole or phallic symbol in order to draw power from it. Ribbons were attached to the top of the pole...
References: Liz (December 10, 2002). Medieval Dancing. Retrieved April 24, 2006, from Welcome to Medieval Entertainment Web site: http://merlin2.alleg.edu/group/meddance/Medieval_Entertainment/Dance.htm
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