The Military and Dancing


The following study focuses on the history of bodily movements as a category ofsocial action. A twofold comparison is attempted, first between bodily movements and in dancing, second between changes in these movements during the 15th century, on the one side, and, on the other, during the 18th century.
The result of the first comparison is that bodily movements, neither in the military nor in dancing, are autonomous; they do not follow some motivation resulting from internal factors in either the military or in dancing; instead, they correlate with forms of behaviour which can be found contemporaneously in other walks of life. The result of the second comparison is that, during the15th century, an equilibrium position emerged, first in dancing, out of which many different movements could be performed; in the 18th century, this equilibrium position was given up, first in the military, in favour of a position which forced the individual to a dynamic flexibility of the body and into a tension; through its release, the tension enhanced movements. Again, this change can be traced in many contemporaneous aspects of 18th-century European culture.

How to Cite

Kleinschmidt, H., (1995) “The Military and Dancing”, Ethnologia Europaea 25(2), 157-176. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Harald Kleinschmidt (University of Tsukuba)



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