Before you can understand the history of Pop dance, you need to understand what pop music is. The term "Pop" comes from the word "popular" and refers to the fact that it is delivered to the masses on a very large scale. This genre of music is very commercialized and record companies use every kind of media tool available to them, such as television, movies, and the Internet. If you go to a dance club you will hear a lot of Pop music because it is very easy to dance to. The evolution of Pop dance goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of popular industrialized music.
Vaudeville and Ragtime Dance
The widespread commercialism of music and dance dates back to the turn of the century when Vaudeville was the popular venue. Vaudeville was a theatrical style of entertainment that lasted from the 1880s to the 1930s. Since there was no television and you couldn't watch people dance on a radio, you had to keep up with the popular dances of the time by watching chorus lines and other stage shows. Ragtime music and dance were also popular during the turn of the 20th century.
Swing and Jazz Dance
Ragtime evolved into Swing and Jazz dance moves in the 1930s and 1940s. Dance moves became more informal and ballroom dancing was replaced by the wild dance moves that characterized Swing and Jazz. These forms of dancing are also traced back to African dance moves that were blended into American culture. This type of dance was also the new generation's way of rebelling and expressing their independence from their parents' generation.
Rock And Roll
In the 1950s Swing and Jazz dance steps evolved even more with the birth of Rock and Roll. With the invention of the first Jukebox in 1951 people no longer had to go to clubs where live bands were playing. Artists such as Elvis Presley popularized the more risqué hip-shaking style of dance that is a big part of the Pop dance of the new millennium. Popular culture could now be mass communicated even more now that most American households owned a television set or a record player. Dance moves also got more inventive with "The Twist", "The Stroll" and "The Madison."
Psychadelic and Disco
In the 1960s young people had FM radio to listen to music and watched shows like the Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand to keep up on what was popular in music and dance. From this time and into the 1970s, rock music started to get more edgy and the psychedelic rock movement rose in popularity. Popular dance moves were more free-form up until 1975 when Disco dancing came on the scene. Saturday Night Fever turned the Disco dance style into a sensation, which is a good example of how mass media determines what is popular and what isn't. Disco dancing involved a lot of structured arm movement as well as leg work, like the Pop dance moves of the new millennium.
MTV And The Birth of "Pop"
In the summer of 1979 a protest was held against Disco in Chicago which is referred to as the "Disco Demolition" and by the year 1980, disco was dead. By now a new, more melodic and technology-based form of rock began to take the form of the "Pop" music you recognize today. Performers such as Michael Jackson and Madonna were at the forefront of this kind of music characterized by electronic and choreographed dance moves. These performers pioneered Pop music, as well as the style that modern Pop dance moves have.
Boy Bands and Pop Divas
"Boy Bands" became the craze in the late 1990s as well as R&B groups such as Destiny's Child and young female singers like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Backstreet Boys and N*Sync sang in harmony but their performances were focused mainly on their tightly choreographed dance routines. The young female "Pop Divas" as well as many Pop singers of the new millennium employ a lot of dance in their performances and back-up dancers to add to their show. These dance routines are what we think of when we think about Pop dance. Hip-hop dance moves are also a big part of Pop dance and these two styles are becoming more and more integrated in the 21st century.
- Photo Credit gnuckx cc0/Flickr.com
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