In the communal and religious life of the Jewish people, dance has been regarded as an expression of joy and sorrow since biblical times and is today an integral part of religious, national, community, and family celebrations. Contemporary dance has developed in two directions: expansion of the folk dance genre which accompanied the early settlers in the rebuilding of their ancient homeland; and the establishment of art dance, leading to stage productions created by professional choreographers and performed by trained dancers.
Dance as an art form was introduced in the country in the 1920s by newly arrived teachers and devotees of dance from the cultural centers of Europe. After the establishment of the state, it was developed to a high professional level by a number of ensembles, each founded on the basis of a different orientation and style. Today more than a dozen major professional dance companies, most of them based in Tel Aviv, perform a varied repertoire throughout the country and abroad.