Women's History
Book Reviews


The Dancing Goddesses:
Folklore, Archeology, and the Origins of European Dance

by Elizabeth Wayland Barber

This interesting overview offers insights into the prevalence of beliefs in female spirits and ways in which throughout history these spirits were channeled or entreated by dance. The book’s focus is on Europe, primarily from Greece to northern Russia. Readers will learn of the multiple ways dances, images, and relics from the stone ages to modern day have reflected the importance of dance and movement to not only honor the spirit world but to connect with the often wily, both threatening and benevolent, nature and infertility goddesses and fairies.

The author’s interest in this research was peaked as a result of her own folk dancing experiences. Trained in archeology and linguistics, she spent twenty years chasing these spirit maidens, which she calls “dancing goddesses,” in research which resulted in new perspectives on European traditional dances and even on some of our still practiced traditions.

Included are maps and helpful photos and line drawings which illustrate how some of the dances are done.

Lyn Reese is the author of all the information on this website
Click for Author Information

| Home Page | Lessons | Thematic Units | Biographies | Essays |
Reviews: | Curriculum | Books | Historical Mysteries |
| About Us |
Women in World History Curriculum