The history of certain dance springs from cultural connection and is something that has influenced modern dance. This can be seen most especially with the group called Stomp. Stomp uses dance and beats to put together a comprehensive performance in which body slaps, dance moves, banging inanimate objects and yes stomping are all used. The origins of such performance can be found through African tribal dancing, Maori dancing, or even Celtic dancing. There are variations to tribal dancing depending on which culture is being examined. In fact, the common thread among these cultures and dance is that they approached it as something spiritual.
Native American tribes associated dance with religious practices using it as a form of blessing for crops, victories in battle and other cultural traditions. Although hip hop doesn’t bless crops it does invoke a sense of victory; either of love or battle. The film Step Up (and it’s sequels) uses dance as a form of challenge to another group. Intimation factors are used such as high jumps, incorporating gymnastics, and parkour into a dance set. The dance battle ends and the next group is challenged to “top” or best the previous group. Although no blood is shed (hopefully, but accidents do happen) the same feeling of risk and reward are felt as they would have been with Native American and African tribes.
Native American tribes used dancing as a blessing; this can be seen in modern times as a first dance in a wedding between the married couple. This ritual dance blesses the union and demonstrates to the audience of family members and friends of the couple’s unity and beauty. The dance signifies them starting a life together, in step, supported by loved ones.
Historical Asian tribal dancing that deals with portraying ancient stories to the audience can be most notably applied to modern ballet. The history of Asian stories from holy books was told through the power of dance. Ballet is similar in that it tells of stories, albeit not religious stories, through the same power of dance. Modern ballet focuses on tales of love and loss (Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, etc.) while Asian historical tribal dance recounts marriages, wars, and religious holidays.
Another important way in which modern dance has been influenced by the history of dance, especially tribal dance, is with dance clubs. Tribal dance is all about the raw and sexual power of a person. Tribal dances are in fact largely influenced by bird mating dances and this translates to the club dance floor. Everyone dresses up, puts on their finest clothes, fixes their hair, and gives their best dance moves in order to attract a mate, or a sexual partner. The dance clubs are very sexual as well as they have partners coupling, grinding, “peacocking” to a selected and attractive partner for the evening.
Comparing tribal dances to the modern club scene, the only real difference seems to be that there’s a roof.