Cancan, Allowing Women to be Naughty Since 1830!
The Cancan’s history is surprisingly complex, and it’s evolution is unusual, changing over the years from it’s initial appearance as ballroom dance for couples in 1830 to a choreographed stage spectacle which really only became standardized in the 1920’s.
The Cancan is regarded today primarily as a music hall dance, performed by a chorus line of female dancers who wear costumes with long skirts, petticoats, and black stockings, harking back to the fashions of the 1890’s. The main features of the dance are: lifting up and manipulation of the skirts, with high kicking and suggestive body movements. The dance was also known as the chahut. Both Cancan and chahut are French, Cancan meaning “tittle-tattle” or “scandal”, hence a scandalous dance, while chahut meant “noise” or “uproar”.