I was browsing around in the bookstore yesterday and spotted this. Apparently in the summer of 1518, in Strasbourg, one woman began dancing and couldn’t stop. This “hysteria” spread until a great number of people had literally danced themselves to death. It’s referred to as the dancing plague, which I’d never heard of before. The book is written by medical historian John Waller, and has received pretty good reviews. I’m definitely going to read it.
Of course it reminded me of the wilis of Giselle and made me think, though we moderns love to roll our eyes at some of these “silly” ballet characters — girls being turned into swans, maiden ghosts forcing the men who snubbed them in life to dance to their deaths — it’s interesting to explore their bases in history, myth and literature. The ideas usually came from somewhere.