The American dancer Ted Shawn wrote; "The conception of rhythm which underlies all studies of the dance is something about which we could talk forever, and still not finish." A musical rhythm requires two main elements; first, a regularly-repeating pulse (also called the "beat" or "tactus") that establishes the tempo and, second, a pattern of accents and rests that establishes the character of the metre or basic rhythmic pattern.
The basic pulse is roughly equal in duration to a simple step or gesture.
Some musical genres have a parallel dance form such as baroque music and baroque dance; other varieties of dance and music may share nomenclature but developed separately, such as classical music and classical ballet.
Rhythm and dance are deeply linked in history and practice.
Émile Jaques-Dalcroze, primarily a musician and teacher, relates how a study of the physical movements of pianists led him "to the discovery that musical sensations of a rhythmic nature call for the muscular and nervous response of the whole organism", to develop "a special training designed to regulate nervous reactions and effect a co-ordination of muscles and nerves" and ultimately to seek the connections between "the art of music and the art of dance", which he formulated into his system of eurhythmics.
Hence, though doubtless, as Shawn asserts, "it is quite possible to develop the dance without music and...
Bharata Muni's Natyashastra (literally "the text of dramaturgy") is one of the earlier texts.
It mainly deals with drama, in which dance plays an important part in Indian culture.
Most classical forms are centred upon dance alone, but performance dance may also appear in opera and other forms of musical theatre.
Participatory dance, on the other hand, whether it be a folk dance, a social dance, a group dance such as a line, circle, chain or square dance, or a partner dance such as is common in western Western ballroom dancing, is undertaken primarily for a common purpose, such as social interaction or exercise, of participants rather than onlookers. A group dance and a corps de ballet, a social partner dance and a pas de deux, differ profoundly.