The Dancing Goddesses by Elizabeth Wayland Barber
Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 2 Critic Reviews



A fascinating exploration of an ancient system of beliefs and its links to the evolution of dance.

From southern Greece to northern Russia, people have long believed in female spirits, bringers of fertility, who spend their nights and days dancing in the fields and forests. So appealing were these spirit-maidens that they also took up residence in nineteenth-century Romantic literature.

Archaeologist and linguist by profession, folk dancer by avocation, Elizabeth Wayland Barber has sleuthed through ethnographic lore and archaeological reports of east and southeast Europe, translating enchanting folktales about these “dancing goddesses” as well as eyewitness accounts of traditional rituals—texts that offer new perspectives on dance in agrarian society. She then traces these goddesses and their dances back through the Romans and Greeks to the first farmers of Europe. Along the way, she locates the origins of many customs, including coloring Easter eggs and throwing rice at the bride. The result is a detective story like no other and a joyful reminder of the human need to dance.

About Elizabeth Wayland Barber

See more books from this Author
Elizabeth Wayland Barber is the author of Women's Work and The Mummies of Ürümchi. Professor emerita of archaeology and linguistics at Occidental College, she lives in California.
Published February 11, 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company. 448 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Dancing Goddesses

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

An exhaustive study of how a series of remnants of early religion lie at the roots of European folk dance.

Feb 04 2013 | Read Full Review of The Dancing Goddesses: Folklo...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Traditions of dance and folklore have long been tied to changing seasons and agricultural cycles, and so too have women been linked throughout history to the fertility of the natural world. Basing her

Nov 05 2012 | Read Full Review of The Dancing Goddesses: Folklo...

Reader Rating for The Dancing Goddesses

An aggregated and normalized score based on 5 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review