Shall we dance?

Ref: C2338455

Dance has a rich history, both as a social activity and in the theatre as a performance art. Following both strands, we explore how dance has changed over time and which aspects have remained constant. Investigating social dance forms in the Florentine intermedii in the late Renaissance, we discover the importance of dance in the elaborate entertainments at Louis XIV’s Versailles and the gradual emergence of ballet as an independent art form. We chart the rise of dance schools and professional dancers and the privileging of the prima ballerina in the 19th-century. Romantic ballet and the Russian school and Tchaikovsky’s three major ballets are considered. Discussing how this tradition was disseminated, we look at counter-currents set in train by Isadora Duncan in the 20th century and the importance laid on individual expression in contemporary dance. Finally, social dance forms originating in the Americas are explored alongside dance in Hollywood films of the 1940s and beyond.

Course aim

To provide a history of dance in Western Europe, from the Renaissance to the present day, to enhance understanding and appreciation of the genre

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of dance history
  • Understand the significance of dance in certain political contexts
  • Describe different dance forms
  • Recognize elements of ballet in contemporary dance
  • Identify different ballroom dances

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full Course information sheet

Shall we dance?


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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