There seem to be two amusing reports of the behavior of chimpanzees that seem to be worth noting at this point. They appear in Dr. Wolfgang Kohler's volume on the Mentality of Apes. Kohler found that his chimpanzees would conceive inexplicable attachments for objects of no use to them whatsoever and carry these for days in a kind of natural pocket between the lower abdomen and upper thigh. An adult female named Tschengo became attached in this way to a round stone that had been polished by the seas. “On no pretext could you get the stone away,” says Kohler, “and in the evening the animal took it with it to its room and its nest.” (Page 358-358 of Primitive Mythology by Joseph Campbell)
In other words, its natural for primates of our species to become attached to objects and even ideas or stories. Such attachments provide a psychological foundation for ritual and religion.
Kohlers second observation is of a social nature.
Dr. Kohler noticed that:
"Tschengo and another chimpanzee named Grande invested a game of spinning round and round like dervishes, which was then taken up by all the rest. "Any game of two together," Dr. Kohler writes.
was apt to turn into this "spinning-top" play, which appeared to express a climax of friendly and amicable joie de vivre. The resemblance to a human dance became truly striking when the rotations were rapid, or whn Tschengo, for instance, stretched her arms out horizontally as she spun round. Tschengo and Chica - whose favorite fashion during 1916 was this "spinning - sometimes combined a forward movement with the rotations, and so they revolved slowly round thier own axes and along the playground.
The whole group of chimpanzees sometimes combined in more elaborate motion-patterns. For instance, tow would wrestle and tumble near a post; soon their movements would become more regular and tend to describe a circle round the post as a center. One after another, the rest of the group approach, join the two, and finally march in an orderly fashion round and round the post. The character of their movements changes; they no longer walk, they trot, and as a rule with special emphasis on one foot, while the other steps lightly, thus a rough approximate rhythm develops, and they tend to "keep time" with one another...
"It seems to me extraordinary," Kohler concludes, "that there should arise quite spontaneously, among chimpanzees, anything that so strongly suggests the dancing of some primitive tribes." (Page 358-358 of Primitive Mythology by Joseph Campbell)
Here is an example of a primitive tribe dance;
"In the dance of the Southern tribes." writes Dr. Tadcliffe Brown, whose fine monograph of this society is a classic of modern anthropological research, "each dancer dances alternatively on the right foot or on the left. When dancing on the right foot, the first movement is a slight hop with the right foot, then the left foot is raised and brought down with a backward scrape along the ground, then another hop on the right foot. These three movements, which occupy the time of two beats of the song, are repeated until the right leg is tired, and the dancer then changes, the movement to a hop with the left foot, followed by a scrape with the right and another hop with the left." If the reader will now test himself, first with the dance step of Kohler's apes and then with that of Radcliffe-Brown's Andamanese, he will agree, I think, that we are not being overbold in suggesting that something about of this order can have served to express mankind's "amicable joie de vivre" through the millenniums of those first and hardest 400,000 years." (Page 366 of Primitive Mythology by Joseph Campbell)
Have far have we really advanced from our "primitive" past? Maybe dancing of this type is so deep in our genetic makeup that it spontaneously erupts in all human cultures?
Country Line Dancing
Polish traditional folk dance: Krakowiak - national dance
Cornell Bhangra @ Worlds Best Bhangra Crew 2014
Cotton Eye Joe Circle Dance
This is an interesting rediscovery by scientists who don't like to read and are thus not caught up on scientific observations already on the record (as outlined above). Turns out ape dancing has been rediscovered;
How humans learned to dance: From the chimpanzee conga line
Two chimpanzees housed in a zoo in the US have sparked the question about how human dance evolved after being observed performing a duo dance-like behavior, similar to a human conga line.
Chimpanzees help trace the evolution of human speech back to ancient ancestors
Your Place in the Primate Family Tree
Depending on the genetic clock use, the beginning of our species - Homonin- can be dated to 2.3 to 23 million years ago. Although a recent discovery of a 5.6 million years old bipedal foot print takes this back even further (and I fully expect discoveries like this to continue). The basic theory holds though.