The Origins of Your Favorite Dance Moves

Brigham Cooper '24, Staff Writer

From humble beginnings to worldwide fame, the art of dance has captured the minds, hearts, and emotions of all people. Over time, the sheer volume of dances created, surfaced, and popularized has grown exponentially along with the rise of cable television, Footloose, the Internet, and, especially, TikTok. 

As a result, our generation has been spoiled with the gift of choice when it comes to dance moves. Remember that feverish anticipation for the dance? What to do was certainly on every dancer’s mind? Was it a situation for ballroom dancing, or for doing the worm? Did this song call for the Chicken Dance, or standing in the corner awkwardly and radiating mischievous energy? If only you had the context of a dance’s creation, so you could have more astutely chosen how to move your little limbs! If only this were a segue into that very topic!

“Masquerade Gala” theme or not, ballroom dancing is not the vibe for such a musical experience in the SNUG. The art of ballroom originates in 16th century Augsburg, Germany on a warm July evening. An elderly observer reflects on this night as “wistful, delectable, and a jolly grand time.” It has a lot of steps to it, however, and it is traditionally a two-player game. Talking is hard enough these days, so finding another student with ballroom capabilities would be an arduous undertaking.

So, is the traditional stuff not for you? You’re in luck, for the worm exists! With its humble beginnings in a middle school PE class, it continues to bruise rib cages and tarnish reputations to this very day. If you have the guts and the skill, a successful worm would certainly put your name on everyone’s lips just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Another great option is the Chicken Dance, which, while not the flashiest, gets the job done. Swiss accordionist Werner Thomas composed a little diddy in the 1950s inspired by the waddling of ducks. This piece made its way to Germany — Oktoberfest celebrations particularly. On a fateful day in 1981, the dance voyaged to America and was demonstrated on live television by dancers in chicken costumes; hence, its acquisition of the name “The Chicken Dance.” So next Winterfest, give the Chicken Dance a try! What could possibly go wrong?

With this wisdom, get ready to tear up the floorboards at your next dance with all your might. And whatever happens, just remember: I never wrote this article.