The Genesis of the Round Dance – Part 1

Krishna dancing the round dance in the Mahabharata

Krishna dancing the round dance in the Mahabharata


During my senior year as a student at Brigham Young University, the Fall 2006 semester, I enrolled in Dance 260 which was an “Introduction to Dance” course. The professor was Susanne Davis, a World Dance Division Administrator. In the class we learned about the history of dance, from the beginning of time down to the present. It was a fascinating experience to learn about the origins of dance, particularly since I have an affinity for ballroom dance, being an active competitor in the sport for more than 15 years. But it was even more interesting to me because of the connections I saw between religion and dance. Our final assignment was to write a paper about dance, relating it in some way historically to what we had learned in the class.

Several years previously I had read Hugh Nibley’s “The Early Christian Prayer Circle” in which he cites similarities between the early Christian practice of the prayer circle with the ancient tradition of round dances. I had always wanted to explore this connection more fully, and this research paper gave me that chance. I was even more convinced of my direction when I saw many more parallels to the prayer circle in the evolution of dance in ancient religions and practices as we read further in our texts.

My research led me to the thesis for my paper which I entitled, “The Genesis of the Round Dance”:

Round dances, through all ages of time and all locations of the world, display striking similarities in structure and theme. This is strong evidence that they share a common origin. These dances are usually quite religious in nature and I propose that round dances, like other widespread yet similar ritual motifs found scattered across the world, had their beginnings in one of the first sacred rites of this world given to and practiced by our first parents, namely the ancient prayer circle.

My paper found strong acceptance with the professors of the Dance Department at BYU. I was accepted to present my paper in the annual Dance Department Writer’s Symposium, and was published in their journal now available at the Harold B. Lee Library. What will follow is the paper, split into parts, with some additional edits of my own.

(Continued in Part 2)


  1. Posted January 30, 2008 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Neat. I am interested. I found you through Mormon Mystic.

  2. Posted January 31, 2008 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad to see interest in this. Help spread the word about Temple Study.

  3. Posted February 1, 2008 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I remember reading Hugh Nibley’s comments on this, and thinking of the Jewish dances we did in my Hebrew class at the Y. I’m interested to read the rest of your paper, post it soon!

  4. Mark Greene
    Posted June 6, 2008 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I have framed on my wall a series of nine deep space galaxies photographed by Hubble. This series I titled “The Marvelous Light of His Goodness” because at the center of each galaxy is a brilliant light. Light and creation from the “Father of lights” is another interesting topic but after reading your paper on the genesis of the ring dance, I noticed that all of these galaxies form ring patterns around this central light.

  5. Posted June 6, 2008 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting. There is such a bright light at the center of our galaxy as well, made up of millions of stars, which surrounds what scientists think is a black hole at the very center, and the most powerful forces known to man exist at that point in space.

    It is interesting the connection of temple practices with the cosmos, even the structure and motion of the cosmos, hence all of the astrological symbolism on our temples. We are being taught something here, to cast our gaze up to the sky, to think on God and his dwelling place.

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  1. [...] of you may remember my paper The Genesis of the Round Dance that I posted early in the life of  It was a paper I wrote for a BYU Dance [...]

  2. [...] also my paper on The Genesis of the Round Dance, published in BYU’s annual Dance Department Writer's Symposium journal, now available at [...]

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