Performing Arts- Overview, History and Genre

What is performing arts?

Performing arts is a way in which an artist makes use of his voice, body and other objectives for conveying his expressions. There are so many different types of performing arts a performer can wish to choose, not all people enjoy all the different entities in the arts world some like to specialise in just one.  A variety of disciplines are included in performance arts but all of them are intended to be performed for an audience’s purpose.

Many people associate performing arts with certain controversies of censorship, government funding and public decency. It is fair to say that performing arts is not for everyone, it is not a unique taste but not everybody appreciates its dynamic. But when it is at its best, it is capable of taking form of the most basic instincts such as the need for food, shelter, human interaction, self-consciousness, individual fears and concerns about life and the future. It can force us to think about certain issues in a way that can be uncomfortable and disturbing. On the other hand, it can also make us laugh with the absurdities of life.

History of performing arts

Performing art was started in Greece in 6th century BC which was known to be the classical period of this art. Tragic poems were the early form of art. Poets used to write plays and these plays also incorporated dances. When the Hellenistic period of performing art started, comedy became a part of the art too.

In the 6th century AD, as the Dark Ages begun, performing arts ended to a large extent. Performing art during the 9th century to the 14th century was limited to morality plays and religious enactments only. These performances were organised in churches and only given on days of holy celebrations.

When the era of Renaissance started in Italy, performing arts started again and spread throughout Europe. These plays incorporated dances. Ballet dance originated during the same era. In the middle of the 16th century, the plays of the performing arts started featuring music, dance and elaborated costumes. All this was featured in plays.

It was in the year 1597 when the first Opera called Dafne was performed in Europe. It widely became popular throughout the cities and towns in Europe.

The modern era of performance art started in the 17th century in Italy with the introduction of Proscenium arch. During this era, acting was forbidden in England and it brought a pause to performing art till 1660. Women even started to appear in the English and French plays. Formal dances were also introduced in performing arts by the French in the 17th century.

During this era, the first ever plays were performed in American colonies.  In the 18th century, another opera named Buffa was introduced. Other landmarks in opera were Bon Giovanni, Mozart’s and the marriage of Figaro.

Different types of performing arts

The performance art is categorised into various different genres and types. Some of them include:

  • Opera


It is the form of performing arts where singers and musicians perform in a dramatic way with their voices. This form of art has been popular in the West as classical musician tradition. It includes a bundle of elements of the spoken theatre such as costumes, scenery, and acting. Some of the operas also included dances. The performances that are given in an opera house are accompanied with an orchestra or a musical ensemble.

  • Dance


It is the most common form which refers to moving the parts of body in accordance to the rhythm of the music. It is often used as a form of expression and even social interaction. Some of the dances include spiritual performances. It is often used as a nonverbal way of communicating feelings. The definition of dance differs from culture, people and society.

  • Drama


Drama is a mode of fiction which is often used in performing arts. It originated from a Greek word Dro meaning action. Some of the most wonderful pieces of drama include the classical Athenian tragedy named Oedipus the King of Sophocles and Hamlet by the ever famous William Shakespeare.

  • Music


Music is also a form of performing arts. It can be in vocal or instrumental form. The use of instrument for performing might not convey a story but the way the notes are played can significantly influence emotions. Such music is harmonious and it can evoke feelings of sadness and anger. Lyrics are also incorporated to convey message or theme.