Cultural History · Historical Places · Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dance

I took this photo in 2007, when I was lucky enough to see the Cancan performed at the Moulin Rouge.


Dance is such a powerful force. To witness dancing, one can be uplifted or brought to tears. It can inspire us with its beauty and tell a story without words. Historically, dance has boldly challenged what is socially acceptable and propelled generations forward on the perpetual path to modernity. Take the Cancan for instance. Developed in mid-19th century and most famously performed at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, the dance was initially considered scandalous and lascivious by members of “respectable society.” Even the name is believed to have been derived from the French word for “tittle-tattle” or “scandal.” Nevertheless, the dance became wildly popular and dancers continued high kicking, cartwheeling, and shaking their skirts until the Cancan found its way into acceptance.

The venue that championed the Cancan, the Moulin Rouge, opened its doors in 1889, during the historical period in French history known as the Belle Époque. This period was marked by optimism, progression, and a culture in which the arts made great advances. The Moulin Rouge provided a stage on which the Cancan could be performed for people from every social and cultural ranking. The dance became closely tied with the Moulin Rouge, which further secured its acceptance in a society in which it was once unacceptable. History shows that where society resists, dance often resists back, and in the end, dance usually claims victory. It is a demonstration of how art is often a medium for social change. Click the link below to celebrate dance by watching some lovely ladies perform the Cancan to The Infernal Galop (what a great name!) from Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld


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