I’m writing: why humans dance. A world history of dance in objects

Sketching illustration ideas for a book on the go, © Mafalda Tenente, 2016

My book project

Why humans dance, a world history of dance in objects is a short, visually compelling, universal introductory book to dance history that summarises my own personal discovery journey and fascination with dance. Tracing more than 10’000 years of dance across all continents, it showcases the themes and stories that accompany how the purpose of human dance has evolved through the ages. It does so by drawing the stories behind specific objects representing dance or related to dance and its practice.

Who am I writing for

The primary readers for my book are art and dance lovers as a high level introduction to the world history of dance. I believe the book will find its largest audience at that particular level, where it can be compelling to people who enjoy dance and are curious to learn more about its origins, without investing in multiple books. It will hopefully also surprise readers, to find it is not skewed towards Western dance history only.

What values drive my research approach

Universal balance

Every dance history theme encompasses a selection of objects from multiple regions of the world, including Latin America, Asia and the Pacific. Every continent will find itself reflected in this book.

Comprehensive timeline

The book explores dance from 10’000 years ago until now and focuses on the themes that are common through the historical evolution. This book attempts to find universal connections in the timeline of human dance history.

Tangible beauty

In 2010 I came across Neil MacGregor’s A History of the World in 100 Objects radio series and later the book. It seemed to me that this concept of history through objects would be a natural approach to make dance history tangible to audiences. Until film made faithful performance recording possible, the only evidence of dance are objects that accompanied a dancer or depicted a dancing scene. This book is accompanied by high quality colour illustration and photography only.

Still curious for more?

I am interested in connecting with art historians, archaeologists, neuroscientists, illustrators and, last but never least, dancers from around the world with deep insight into or passion for the history of human dance and its purpose.

I am very passionate about this project and if you have been curious enough to read this far, you might have something you wish to share with me personally. Is it an idea or question about the book concept? Perhaps you know of an important object or dance that you think should be featured in this book? You know all about how our brain and body’s wirings work and the latest theory on why we are driven to dance? You are inspired by the project and would like to consider being the main illustrator for this book? If this is the case then definitely send me your message here.

All rights reserved. “Why humans dance. A world history of dance in objects”™, the concept and content described above are the intellectual property of its author Mafalda Tenente, 20162023