Dancing Across Time
While each culture has its own unique characteristics, dance is a common part of almost all of them. The earliest artwork showing dance comes from 9,000 year-old cave paintings, and it's likely that dance has been performed for thousands of years before that. Ancient societies and cultures used dance to mark important milestones like births, tell stories, intimidate enemies, and more. Though these dances vary, they share certain characteristics that transcend culture and even time itself. Today, you'll learn about the history of dance and how choreographers (people who create and compose dance arrangements and moves) do their work. You'll even have a chance to try choreographing your own dance!
what you’ll need
- A computer, tablet, or mobile phone and access to the internet
Ask About Today
Are there dances we do now that are similar to the ones that were popular before you were born? Which ones?
If we all made up a dance to show our family's traditions, what kinds of moves would it include? What song would we pick?
Skip the Ads
Unfortunately, online videos often start with short advertisements. Remind your campers to click the "Skip" button as soon as they can to move ahead to the video.
Dance, Dance Evolution
Why do humans love to move to music? Learn about the unique power of dance to bring cultures and societies together.
Remember: Online videos often start with advertisements. (Annoying, we agree!) Click the "Skip" button as soon as you can to move ahead to the video.
Global Dance Styles
Now that you know why people dance, let’s check out a few dance styles from around the world. Do you notice any similarities across cultures?
The World's Top Kid Dancers
No matter where you are in the world, dance is performed by people of all ages—especially yours! Watch as these kid performers take on one of the biggest stages for dance culture, the Got Talent show!
70 Years of Dance in 5 Minutes
While it might be hard to imagine what dance was like thousands of years ago, it probably didn’t change as quickly as dance has evolved throughout modern history. Watch the talented artists of Ricardo Walker’s Crew take us through some of the most popular dances since the 1950s. See if any moves are similar to those of the cultures you just watched.
As you’ve already seen, people from different countries and cultures use many different types of dance to celebrate their traditions and beliefs. Today, you'll try your hand (or your feet?) at creating your own dance routine!
Dance Your Traditions
Now that you’re ready, think about the traditions and beliefs you share with your family or friends and make up a dance that reflects those traditions. Choose the rhythm and types of movement, and use as many steps as you want.
Give your dance a name and perform it for whoever lives with you in your home. You may even want to record it and share when you connect virtually with family and friends who are staying safe in their own homes.
Share your dance! We'd love to see it. Ask a parent to email a video to us or share it on Instagram or Twitter by tagging @CampKinda.
For younger explorers
Draw a Dancer
We love this simple, colorful drawing of a dancing woman in traditional dress. Follow the instructions to draw one of your own, choosing whichever colors you like along the way!
From Cave Paintings to the Cha-Cha Slide
Cave paintings all over the world provide proof that dance has been a style of human expression for thousands of years. So if our ancestors had rhythm, surely you do, too! Read here to learn how the art of dance has evolved over time.
Roots of Dance in the Americas
Visit The National Museum of the American Indian's online exhibit "Circle of Dance" to see some of the beautiful costumes and read about the dance traditions of Native people from present-day Alaska to South America.
Tip: Click the blue "Menu" circle in the upper left corner of the website to explore the different dance forms.
Dances From Around the World
Check out dance forms from China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and more.
For younger explorers
The First Music
Listen as the animals of Africa learn to make music together in The First Music: A Folktale from Africa, by Dylan Pritchett.
Play Arthur Delivers
You’ve done a great job learning about the history of dance today! Cool off and take a break by helping Arthur and his friends at PBS Kids deliver a few packages around their neighborhood. Click on the gates to direct their paths in order to get the deliveries out in time.
Learn the Wobble
In today’s Explore section, you saw many examples of what are considered “line dances” around the world and one of the most popular ones is the Wobble! Learn how to do it here and be the envy of the next party or wedding you attend.
more to explore
Line Dancing, Meet Lion Dancing
You tried line dancing—but have you ever heard of “lion” dancing? Learn how lion dancing represents different aspects of Chinese history.
Tap Dancing: An American Invention
Did you know that tap dancing got its start in America? Watch "How Tap Dancing was Made in America," a high-energy video to learn about the origins of tap.
Dances of South America
South America boasts a vibrant dance culture full of intricate rhythms, fast movements, and beautiful costumes! Explore a few of them in this article from Culture Trip.