Learn English – I can’t understand these sentences. Please give me some help

meaning

I have two questions:

  1. I can not completely understand the following two sentences. and what dose the phrase 'is external to survival'?

    In the lives of primitive peoples and in ancient civilizations few experiences or communal functions approached the dance in importance. It is not viewed as an activity that is external to survival.

  2. I can not understand this phrase 'dance can assume so many guises' in the following sentences. what does it mean?

    The gestures in some dances may refer to specific emotional states and their sequence may tell a story. Other dances tell no story, but instead present beautiful images of people in motion, the choreographer believing that pure movement in itself is worthy of attention. Because dance can assume so many guises, the viewer should regard each dance he attends with fresh, unprejudiced eyes.

Best Answer

No.1 : I can not completely understand the following two sentences. and what >dose the phrase 'is external to survival'?

In the lives of primitive peoples and in ancient civilizations few experiences >or communal functions approached the dance in importance. It is not viewed as >an activity that is external to survival.

In this context "external to survival" means "not necessary for survival". That is, "not necessary to maintain life".

Some people consider the necessities of life to be things like food, water, sleep, shelter from the elements, defense against wild animals, and so on. They consider things like dance, music, and the arts to be nonessential indulgences, which -- while they may make life more interesting -- are not strictly necessary to maintain life itself.

In your example, the opposite is being claimed. The person speaking in your example is saying that primitive peoples and ancient civilizations \did\ consider dance as necessity for life, without which they would wither and die, the same as if they lacked food or water.

I can not understand this phrase 'dance can assume so many guises' in the >following sentences. what does it mean?

"Guise" means "how something looks, or appears". It often suggests that something may be more than it at first appears to be. For example:

"The policeman dressed in the guise of an addict, to gather evidence against the drug dealer."

In other words, the person who appeared to be a drug addict, was really a policeman. (Note that the word "guise" is the root of the word "disguise".)

or:

"The man was a well known millionaire, but often appeared in the guise of a bum when he went out in public, so that people wouldn't recognize him and invade his privacy."

or:

"Depending on his current interests, Leonardo da Vinci presented many guises: artist, scientist, musician, inventor, writer, and many others."

In your example, it is being suggested that -dance- can appear to be many different things, or be present in many different contexts -- for example: entertainment; religious ritual; courtship rite; exercise; mime; etc.

You are being cautioned, therefore, not to assume every time you see someone dance, that it always means the same thing. Each time you see someone dance, the dance might represent something different, or they might be dancing for a different reason than the last time you saw them dance.

Hope this is helpful.

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