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date: 20 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Dance has accompanied religious ceremonies and sacred rites since prehistoric times. Most religions have included dance as part of worship at some period or in some places. However, because of its association with fertility and its celebration of the body, dance has equally been proscribed at times in different religions. Historical data on the use of dance in Christian rites indicate wide fluctuations in acceptance over the centuries. The presentation of dance as part of worship was highly developed in India, where dancers were employed by Hindu temples for many centuries. Such dances were highly formalized and required long training, and were largely the preserve of a specific community (caste) of dancers and dance-associated musicians. In the last century the movement for Sacred Dance has sought to revive and promote religious dances, creating a diversity of hybrid and innovative movement styles. Dance as a form of sacred art continues to evolve and diversify.

Keywords: dance and religion, devadasis, tribal religion, dervishes, funerals, Hindu temples, Hindu dance, Natya Shastra, processions, Sufism

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