Published July 20, 1993|Updated Oct. 9, 2005

DANCING has existed in some form or other practically since the beginning of humanity. Primitive people have danced in imitation of animals or forces of nature, and religious dances have been part of the history of mankind since the earliest times.

But social dancing is quite another thing. It is done for the sheer pleasure of it. This kind of dancing has a long history, too. The ancient Greeks were fond of dancing as a social amusement. There was dancing at all banquets and festivities. And it was so much a part of ancient Greek life that both Socrates and Plato approved of it.

Dancing as a social art was known in Egypt more than 4,000 years ago. It was the custom to entertain dinner guests with dancing at ancient Egyptian banquets. In India, too, dancing as a form of entertainment has existed since the earliest times, though many of these dances had a religious significance.

The country where social dancing as we know it really began to develop is France. Even though many of the dances originated in other countries, they were brought to perfection in France. It was Catherine de Medici who was chiefly responsible for this at first. She loved social dancing, and the taste for it spread from the court to private homes.

At Versailles, under Louis XIV, social dancing reached great heights. Magnificent ballets were organized and the best composers of the day created music just for the dances at the court.