Definition of dance in English:



  • 1Move rhythmically to music, typically following a set sequence of steps.

    ‘their cheeks were pressed together as they danced’
    • ‘Together they danced to the music, taking breaks when songs switched.’
    • ‘A few couples had finished eating and were out on the dance floor, dancing slowly to quiet music.’
    • ‘We have been dancing together for years, but we are always trying to dance together more often.’
    • ‘It was scary at first, but we ended up just having a good time dancing together.’
    • ‘So, me and Charlie walked up to the dance floor and started dancing, the music filling our ears.’
    • ‘They often enjoy jumping, dancing and playing to music.’
    • ‘An eight year old girl was playing on a machine where she had to dance along to the music of Steps.’
    • ‘I held out my hand, which he took warmly into his and we danced around the ancient memory, dancing to the music and to the rhythm of the night.’
    • ‘We started moving to the hypnotic rhythm of the music, dancing slowly.’
    • ‘A few years later, her brother came to school one day, heard the music, and started dancing.’
    • ‘She started moving in the rhythm of the music, dancing for herself, her eyes half-closed.’
    • ‘I could already see him in a music video, dancing like crazy.’
    • ‘Colors meshed on the dance floor, where couples danced rhythmically to the music.’
    • ‘We held our drinks with our other hands and danced together rhythmically and sultrily to the music, in full view of the young guys.’
    • ‘Together they looked and danced like the fiery heat that filled the evening sky.’
    • ‘When the Crossings women join together to sing and dance to music, then, it is only to devotional music deemed appropriate.’
    • ‘Cameron started laughing too when he saw it along with Kathy and Mark dancing to the music together.’
    • ‘This special effect was missing here as the troupe danced to the music flowing from the CD.’
    • ‘The dance continued and they made small talk for a little while before they went silent and just listened to the music and danced together.’
    • ‘At one time they taught newcomers the few steps that were needed to dance to the music that Victor Sylvester and many others made world famous.’
    trip, sway, spin, whirl, twirl, pirouette, gyrate
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    1. 1.1with object Perform (a particular dance or a role in a ballet)
      ‘they danced a tango’
      • ‘In The Magic Curtain, Joseph Poulton dances the role of the Wizard alongside students from the summer workshop.’
      • ‘Knowing that Margot Fonteyn had once danced these roles added pressure, but it was also incredibly inspiring.’
      • ‘Carmazzi once again danced the featured role, this time as a temptress with whom the male corps was bewitched.’
      • ‘During her second season, Semionova danced Tatiana in Onegin, the role she has grown to love above all others.’
      • ‘As a student at the National Ballet School in Toronto, I danced Serenade, and my god, that was amazing!’
      • ‘As part of the city's celebration Margot Fonteyn danced Swan Lake with the Lake as a backdrop.’
      • ‘However, within three months she was dancing the demanding role of Giselle, despite having had surgery on her knee for a torn cartilage.’
      • ‘Although still a corps member, he dances principal roles and is the company's unofficial resident choreographer.’
      • ‘Tally's ability to adapt served her well at Boston Ballet, where she danced diverse roles.’
      • ‘She has danced the principal role of Giselle at the State Theatre in Pretoria.’
      • ‘It was with this company that he first danced Romeo, a role that was to become one of his most acclaimed.’
      • ‘It is not the case that we in Brazil do not dance the samba anymore.’
      • ‘At 17, she caught the eye of Julio Bocca, in whose company she danced principal roles.’
      • ‘While she danced some classical roles, the bulk of the repertoire was neoclassical.’
      • ‘Musical groups danced the samba all the way, beating bongo drums and shaking tambourines.’
      • ‘After about the third performance I realized that I would never have the same feeling twice dancing this role.’
      • ‘How would you describe the feeling when you were dancing at your best or dancing your favorite roles?’
      • ‘By her second year she was dancing soloist roles in the Balanchine repertory.’
      • ‘They must have danced the rumba often enough, in her house, but this dance was for the village.’
      • ‘Ji Pingping, a gold-prize winner at the 9th International Ballet Competition in Paris held last November, dances the role of Giselle.’
      trip, sway, spin, whirl, twirl, pirouette, gyrate
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    2. 1.2with object and adverbial of direction Lead (someone) in a particular direction while dancing.
      ‘I danced her out of the room’
      • ‘Without evening realizing it, he began to take lead and was dancing me around the room.’
  • 2with adverbial of direction (of a person) move in a quick and lively way.

    ‘Sheila danced in gaily’
    • ‘In your ideal fantasy world there will be people dancing around in circles, holding hands with daisy chains in their hair.’
    • ‘It will bring two hours of the great musical classics as well as a selection from new shows that have not yet reached the UK will get people dancing in the aisles.’
    • ‘The crowd was mostly families with small children and up in front of the stage there were all these little girls dancing around.’
    • ‘Maybe he could benefit from being one of the ‘people dancing around in circles, holding hands with daisy chains in their hair’.’
    • ‘The town received Unicef assistance after the Second World War, inspiring Jitka to paint children dancing around a maypole.’
    caper, cavort, frisk, frolic, skip, prance, romp, gambol, jig, bound, leap, jump, spring, bob, hop, trip, bounce
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    1. 2.1with adverbial of place Move up and down lightly and quickly.
      ‘midges danced over the stream’
      • ‘After a few drinks of water, the trio stood and walked to the door and strange torches, the white flame dancing before them.’
      • ‘The only light in the room came from black candles that hung down from the ceiling, dancing with crimson flames.’
      • ‘Ex stood at the fireplace in his bedroom, glaring at the flames that danced within the dark marble depths.’
      • ‘It looked like a candle or maybe a torch flame was dancing from a draft.’
      • ‘Huge braziers of shining bronze lit the cavernous dining hall with dancing, playful flames.’
      • ‘Ed was already at work, his fingers trembled slightly but still they danced lightly and quickly over the keyboard.’
      • ‘The only light were coming from a couple of torches; the flames dancing and flickering in the night.’
      • ‘Jade squinted and looked into the distance, seeing flames dancing under the shade of leafy trees on a close, western island.’
      • ‘The hundreds of tiny flames danced as they were brightly reflected in the rows of polished marble columns throughout the church.’
      • ‘They walked to the field where they had a massive fire going, the flames dancing at least six feet high and the fire pit was ten feet across.’
      • ‘Once more my fingers dance lightly over the keys and so normal service should be resumed from tomorrow.’
      • ‘In each cemetery there are two or three little flames dancing in the wind under soot-blackened glass.’
      • ‘Crisp white table cloths, and candles, their flames dancing inside little crackled glass bowls keep the atmosphere fresh.’
      • ‘His fingers were soon bathed in olive oil and flecked with pepper, dancing quickly from plate to plate.’
      • ‘I closed my eyes and exhaled quietly, my fingers dancing lightly in his hair.’
      • ‘This is a place for snow, ice hardened drifts, yet on a January day, midges danced over the streams.’
      • ‘Every day the sun sets behind blurred clouds of stonefly, caddis, midge or mayfly dancing against the horizon.’
      • ‘He watched the flames dancing near her, lighting her figure a rustic orange.’
      • ‘The wind ruffled her hair and she watched the leaves dance, lightly, beneath the soft breeze.’
      • ‘Four shadows were cast across the pavement, dancing like flames in the moonlight as they walked toward their destinations.’
      flicker, sparkle, twinkle, shimmer, leap, ripple, dart, play, flick, flit, quiver, jiggle, joggle, oscillate
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    2. 2.2 (of someone's eyes) sparkle brightly with pleasure or excitement.
      • ‘Their eyes danced with excitement, and the children from within smiled at each other.’
      • ‘Kai smiled now, his eyes dancing with excitement at what he was about to send Zaid out on.’
      • ‘Lord Rourne watched him, eyes dancing with pleasure at the spectacle unveiling before him.’
      • ‘Jessica leaned forward again, eyes dancing with excitement for her cousin.’
      • ‘Sparkling green eyes danced as the beat changed, reflecting the choreographed madness all around.’
      • ‘Her sparkling blue eyes danced around the cell.’
      • ‘Arial interrupted, her eyes dancing with excitement.’
      • ‘Meredith's bright eyes danced and shimmered as she hugged her old friend.’
      • ‘He can see her shy excitement, which makes her hazel eyes dance with joy.’
      • ‘His light brown eyes still danced with their usual vivaciousness but their golden sparkle had died out hours ago.’
      • ‘Glancing over at him, she grinned, her eyes dancing with wicked pleasure.’
      • ‘Old Joe's bright, pale blue eyes danced with a sparkling light.’
      • ‘She heard his approach and looked up at him, sapphire blue eyes dancing with excitement.’
      • ‘A grin flickered across Ame's lips, eyes dancing like emerald fire.’
      • ‘Gray's green eyes still dance with boyish excitement as he points out the lagoons' wonders.’
      • ‘Giggling, Rebecca flicked her hair over her shoulder, her dark eyes dancing mischievously as she nattered on to Blake.’
      • ‘Dante leaned forward, and his dark eyes danced excitedly from across the table.’
      • ‘I remember your shoulder length, dark curly hair and the way your eyes danced when you looked at me.’
      • ‘The flame flickered and her eyes danced in the light, sparkling, and he felt something tug inside of him.’
      • ‘Kevin held his look of innocence, while his eyes danced and twinkled, laughing at her.’


  • 1A series of movements that match the speed and rhythm of a piece of music.

    • ‘To make the melodies come to life, the Xavante choreograph dances in a series of highly formalized patterns.’
    • ‘But in this case what you saw was four couples and a suite of dances, a series of dances, maybe fifteen or so, quite a number of them and with just a man on stage playing the piano.’
    • ‘The fifth suite has Japanese kabuki actor Tamasaburo Bando executing a series of dances while Ma plays.’
    • ‘Gyrating, shuffling, mimicking birds and humans, pounding bamboo drums and stomping in rhythm, the men and boys play out a series of dances.’
    • ‘Paula Walsh took her first dance steps to the music of her dad Terry's band Triad.’
    • ‘He saw his opponent lose the rhythm of the dance and falter.’
    • ‘The deep and mystical quality of the dance and its inner rhythms have been captured.’
    • ‘Playful and profound, Works' series of dances is accompanied by Owen Belton's original electronic score.’
    • ‘When he was a sophomore, the dance instructor asked him to compose some music for a dance recital.’
    • ‘The audience was treated to a series of dances and plays to celebrate the silver anniversary of the event.’
    • ‘A series of dances by warriors, Persian slave girls, and Polovtsian maidens followed one another in pounding rhythms.’
    • ‘His father has asked him to help stage a series of dances in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh set to music composed by the king.’
    • ‘The first half was a traditional story and the second half a series of solo traditional dances.’
    • ‘The dance steps matched the beat as it sped up and everything intensified with complexity.’
    • ‘As they danced, the rhythm of the song and dance matched the rhythm of the music.’
    • ‘Once there, they will perform a series of historic dances to music by the QuintEssential Sackbut & Cornett Ensemble.’
    • ‘The poem I wrote this morning - Barong Dance is about the link between the music and the dance in Balinese Dance dramas.’
    • ‘She continued like this for ages, always perfecting her last move and creating a new dance, a new rhythm.’
    • ‘Later the hotel's chefs took to the stage and made their own finely choreographed rendition of a dance and rhythm extraodinaire!’
    • ‘Through a series of solo dances, representing different women, Borissova creates a melancholic atmosphere, reaching towards desperation.’
    1. 1.1 Music for dancing to, especially in a nightclub.
      • ‘The stage almost feels set for one of them to leap out of their seat, into the centre of the circle, and perform a dance or mime routine.’
      • ‘Likok Pulo means a dance from Aceh Island during which the dancers will perform a dance combined with traditional songs.’
      • ‘Any members who wish to perform a dance sing a song or entertain on the night are welcome.’
      • ‘The team, which is currently all-female, performed a dance and cheer routine to open the event and to entertain the audience during the interval.’
      • ‘This emotion seeps out whenever I express myself, in my art, my dance, and my writing.’
    2. 1.2 A particular sequence of steps and movements constituting a particular form of dancing.
      • ‘The only time the heroine actually comes to life is when Alba's body double takes over in the dance sequences.’
      • ‘The dance sequences shift in tone and energy to suit both the music and the dramatic context.’
      • ‘Headlands School pupil Samantha, 15, took part in the dance sequence accompanying the title song as well acting as a pupil of the stage school.’
      • ‘That movie too did not do well at the box office but the dance sequence lingered in the minds of viewers.’
      • ‘Most of the dances include stamps, hops, squats, slides, and hip swivels, reflecting the occasion for which it is intended.’
      • ‘But the way things turned out is all the more poignant if you see the enthusiasm she brought to Bitter Rice, as well as the steamy energy of the dance sequences.’
      • ‘The best dance sequence is probably the first, when Hayworth matches Astaire step-for step in a difficult routine.’
      • ‘The instructions for the dances are also included at the end of the video for those who might like to learn the ‘steps’.’
      • ‘If both of these were smartened up, the film might not have been bad, because the dance sequences are outstanding.’
      • ‘Wheeldon gives us a potpourri of their choreography, rather than fully developed dances that stand on their own.’
      • ‘The music in Monsoon Wedding varies from traditional songs to modern Indian pop, and the dance sequences are sexy, passionate and joyful.’
      • ‘In that version, some of the choreographic dance sequence and all the motion were edited backward.’
      • ‘If that contest also ends in a tie, then then each side picks one Justice to re-enact the final dance sequence from Flashdance.’
      • ‘Some of the best parts of the movie were the dance sequences which had a sweaty close-up liveliness that really set the mood of the bar.’
      • ‘Tanusree Shankar, of the Ananda Shankar Centre for Performing Arts, choreographed the dance movements.’
      • ‘Later, even critics lauded him for his agility in the dance sequences, little realising that it was a man in pain shaking it off, all for his fans.’
      • ‘The film-makers decided to skip the sojourn to Europe or other foreign locales for filming the dance sequences.’
      • ‘Along with this, just to pep up the guests were the dance sequences interspersed with the fashion show.’
      • ‘The special dance movements were choreographed by Pushkala Ramesh.’
      • ‘Bhavana plays the second leading lady, and has a dance sequence.’
    3. 1.3 Dance steps and movements considered as an activity or art form.
      ‘she has studied dance with Martha Graham’
      • ‘The artist's grasp of the subject and the dynamics of classical dance movements are evident in the frames on display.’
      • ‘Dowling is a member of the dance company Kryptic Movement, and studied dance at the Laban centre.’
      • ‘Since dance is an evolving art form, most likes and dislikes are matters of personal opinion.’
      • ‘Michelle believes that dance is a worthwhile activity for everyone.’
      • ‘For 10 days, this town is inundated with cultural activities, of which dance is a big part, from classical ballet to flamenco.’
      • ‘Nair is a trained dancer in western classical dance, jazz, tap dancing and ballet.’
      • ‘The dance presentations are a creative mix, using motifs from various classical dance and also martial art forms.’
      • ‘As usual a mix of activities such as dance, storytelling, arts and crafts were organised to suit all age groups.’
      • ‘The beauty of classical ballet lies in adhering to traditionalist art forms of dance.’
      • ‘She also trained in Russian classical ballet and lived in India, where she learned the classical North Indian dance, called Kathak.’
      • ‘There are also plans for arts, dance and other cultural activities to coincide with the games.’
      • ‘Born in London to parents from Bangladesh, Khan learned the Indian classical dance of Kathak at the Academy of Indian Dance.’
      • ‘The movements are a combination of classical Javanese dance, martial art and modern fitness exercises.’
      • ‘Yes, dance is a physical art form, but it's also a visual one.’
      • ‘Most spoke about how they got boys interested in classical dance and taught them to respect it.’
      • ‘Though no school specializes in teaching seniors to dance, many old people regard dance as their favourite activity.’
      • ‘Classical ballet and dance is not up there on the country's list of priorities.’
      • ‘He started his career as an actor then studied dance at Stockholm Ballet Academy from 1972.’
      • ‘With God's grace, I have maintained a strict discipline, and all thanks go to the art form of dance.’
      • ‘Having studied dance in the Betty Bible School of Dance, Aoife she was really looking forward to moving to the Rebel County.’
    4. 1.4 A social gathering at which people dance.
      ‘she met her husband at a dance’
      • ‘Now, being the anti-social person I have never been to a social event besides a dance.’
      • ‘It was perfectly in sync for our weddings, dances, village socials and Sunday morning hops for the waltz, fox trot or dancing.’
      • ‘Though most of the time I enjoyed being a hermit, school dances were the one social thing I loved to go to.’
      • ‘After months of seeing Brent and Eve at all of the parties and dances and other social events, she'd had become quite content in her single status.’
      • ‘Run as a non-profit organisation, it has a social committee which organises dances, suppers, a hunt ball, quiz and charity rides.’
      • ‘Both buildings were built by the residents and have become famous for the regular dances and social evenings.’
      • ‘For Jeannie, the Homecoming dance was the social event of the year.’
      • ‘The appeal fund is gathering momentum with a dance being held on Friday May 24 in the Castle Inn Ballynoe.’
      • ‘They organise dances and gatherings to whip up the spirits, then go into trances.’
      • ‘They also took him further afield on occasions to dances and socials and he treasured their goodness and kindness in a very special way.’
      • ‘Lunch will be served at 1.30 pm with an afternoon dance / social to follow.’
      • ‘On February 21 there will be a social dance and supper with tickets available for £7.50.’
      • ‘P.J. also plays his own show and entertains at weddings, birthday parties, socials, pubs, dances and concerts with much for young and not so young.’
      • ‘The highlight of the event was the Benefit dance in the Irish Social Club, West Roxbury, Boston, which was a terrific success.’
      • ‘Community dances provide some social structure, but otherwise it's a matter of just waiting for life to happen.’
      • ‘It's already been big in the Colombian and Latino communities in London and around the country for years, but only at social clubs and dances.’
      • ‘Social card evenings and dances were sometimes held locally.’
      • ‘In place of the free-form discussions and social dances older teens enjoy, Hughes now offers more play-oriented activities.’
      • ‘This led to a decision in 2004 not to hold a dance but a social evening instead - a pragmatic change.’
      • ‘Stacks of photos showed my parents and their friends at various dances, parties, and social gatherings in the 1950s.’
      ball, discotheque
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    5. 1.5 A set of lively movements resembling a dance.
      ‘he gesticulated comically and did a little dance’
      • ‘She wished Meredith were there so that they could do their sign language dance together.’
      • ‘His voice dips and soars as he slides and skitters across the stage; his quirky dance steps bring to mind David Byrne during his "Talking Head" days.’
      • ‘Hehehe, you can't see, but I'm doing a birthday dance right now.’
    6. 1.6 A piece of music for dancing to.
      ‘the last dance had been played’
      • ‘When a composer visits Dulugun, the island of the dead, in order to find new songs and dances, the tune sticks in his mind like a stain, it can't be forgotten.’
      • ‘The music is an ecstatic dance, occasionally breaking out into full-throated ardent song.’
      • ‘In England, William Morris translated the Icelandic sagas and Cecil Sharp collected village dances and songs.’
      • ‘It's a symphonic dance, like Ravel's La Valse, a study in the erasure of the bar line while keeping a steady pulse.’
      • ‘This pleasurable disc enshrines 26 tracks of seventeenth century lute songs and dances.’
      • ‘All but the fourth are in 3/4 time, echoing Schubert's fondness for dances in triple meter.’
      • ‘The Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov dances are beautifully poised.’
      • ‘The 3pm show takes in sea-shanties, Cornish dances, North Country tunes and an Orkney wedding.’
      • ‘An example is the gorgeous series of Hungarian dances of the German-born Brahms.’
      • ‘Also on this programme was Somebody's Coming to See Me Tonight, a romantic and haunting set of dances to songs by Stephen Foster, using a quartet of fine singers.’
      • ‘For reasons having little to do with music, none of the dances here have held on to the repertory, as the Stravinsky and Copland ballets have, for example.’
      • ‘Moravec takes the opening of the first in a way that connects with Bartók's piano dances, with shifting accents.’
      • ‘The Burning Bush specialise in Jewish music with klezmer, Hassidic dances, exotic music from the old Ottoman and haunting, mystical ballads of the ghetto.’
      • ‘The songs, dances, and incidental instrumental music were normally written by different composers.’
      • ‘It drew from African chants, ballads, church music and jump-up dance tunes.’
      • ‘In addition to the guitar, the accordion is also played along with many of the traditional folk songs and dances.’
      • ‘Graffiti Classics' concert on August 11 includes Mozart and Hungarian dances.’
      • ‘As Leadbelly he could sing and play the blues, as well as Southern folk songs and dances from a variety of genres.’
      • ‘The concert, which will include Ukranian folk songs and dances, as well as some English music suitable for the run up to Christmas, will be free.’


  • dance attendance on

    • Do one's utmost to please someone by attending to all possible needs or requests.

      • ‘If you're so concerned, why don't you stop dancing attendance on the man and go your own way?’
      • ‘It is odd how they happily dance attendance on unelected newspaper editors, television interviewers and City tycoons.’
      • ‘There was no post for him there, however, so he moved on to Paris and danced attendance on various members of the nobility.’
      • ‘Essex's determination not simply to dance attendance on his ageing sovereign captured the public imagination and won him a large following among soldiers.’
      • ‘I do love you, Sue, though I have danced attendance on you so long for such poor returns!’
      • ‘A typical snipe observed: ‘He finds it absolutely impossible to grovel lower than he has, to further bait his race, to dance attendance on the Golden Calf, to sing the praises of those he loathes and hates and fears.’’
      homage, deference, obedience, suit, courtship, blandishments, respects, attention, addresses
      curry favour with, make up to, play up to
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  • dance to someone's tune

    • Comply completely with someone's demands and wishes.

      • ‘He not only held the finalists in a trance, but also the audience that comprised students and teachers dancing to his tune.’
      • ‘He has the world's only superpower dancing to his tune.’
      • ‘You elected them and they should dance to your tune if they want to secure another term in office.’
      • ‘Our freedom to use what is ours is being taken away from us unless we dance to their tune and pay up.’
      • ‘I denied vigorously that we were dancing to their tune - I protested that I was acting only in the long-term interests of the BBC.’
      • ‘Movies that are truly great are group efforts where everybody adds something, not just everybody dancing to the director 's tune.’
  • lead someone a dance (or a merry dance)

    • Cause someone a great deal of trouble or worry.

      • ‘Now it is the turn of the international financial markets to be led a merry dance by Argentina.’
      • ‘The solicitors then tried to find the conveyancing file. They were led a merry dance in their search for this file, and in the end they eventually located it through approaching a successor firm.’
      • ‘Motta showed the habitual strengths and weaknesses of his game as he was led a merry dance by Makelele and was involved in taut action with Drogba.’
      • ‘Carlow were led a merry dance by Offaly in the semi-final of the Leinster Vocational Schools SFC in Stradbally on Friday.’
      • ‘He was led a merry dance by Lord Fairfax and his son, Sir Thomas and was never able to totally overcome this energetic pair of Roundheads.’


Middle English: from Old French dancer (verb), dance (noun), of unknown origin.