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"Aristotle's definition of dance" in Choreutika: Performing and Theorizing Dance in Ancient Greece (ed. Laura Gianvittorio)

Cover of Choreutika: Performing and Theorizing Dance in Ancient Greece
Fabrizio Serra editore
June 2017


In ancient Greece the art of the Muses (mousike) combined word, music and dance; dance was a central component of cultural and of civic, religious and social life. Despite this, few studies have been carried out on the subject. It is not hard to understand one of the main reasons for this void, namely the considerable difficulty in reconstructing a performing art form which we only know through its reflections on literary texts, figurative works and theoretical reflections. Nevertheless it is important to tread new research paths on the topic: to highlight the main aspects only, dance in its various forms marks with public value the fundamental steps in the lives of individuals, such as the passage to a different age group, marriage and death. As an essential element of the ritual dimension, dance accompanied festivities and public occasions, such as celebrations to honour the gods and heroes, to praise athletic and military victories and to mark the agricultural calendar and other work activities. This book represents a valid and original contribution to the analysis of dance aspects between the archaic period and the end of the classical age, focusing above all from on the relations with poetry and ancient theoretical reflection. The authors introduce an inter-disciplinary discourse which provides both a good overview of different perspectives (methodological, historical-literary, lexical, religious and philosophical) and punctual, innovative interpretations of specific texts, seen in the light of the most recent critical acquisitions.