GC: n

S: (last access: 3 January 2016); (last access: 3 January 2016).

N: 1. 1806, from Modern Latin chorea Sancti Viti “St. Vitus dance” (originally a mass hysteria in 15c. Europe characterized by uncontrolled dancing); from Latin chorea “a dance,” from Greek khoreia “dance” (see chorus). Extension to the nerve disorder is from 1620s.
2. (A type of) dyskinesia (abnormal movement), characterised by continuing, rapid, dance-like movements (which) may result from high doses of levodopa and/or long term levodopa therapy.
3. Types of Chorea: Medical experts consider chorea to be one of three types of hyperkinetic disorder. Chorea causes rapid involuntary motions. Ballismus (or choreoballismus) causes more-severe jerking motions that are more likely to cause injury. Athetosis (or choreoathetosis) causes slow, writhing movements.
What Causes Chorea?
Chorea is associated with a number of causes, some temporary and some chronic. Examples of chorea causes include:

  • AIDS
  • genetic conditions, such as Huntington’s disease
  • immune conditions, such as systemic lupus erythematosus
  • infection-related conditions, such as Sydenham’s chorea, which is the result of rheumatic fever
  • medications, including levodopa and neuroleptics
  • metabolic or endocrine disorders, including hypoglycemia
  • pregnancy (known as chorea gravidarum)

Because many conditions cause chorea, a doctor must take a thorough medical history to determine potential causes.
4. The term “dancing mania” is derived from the Greek word choros, a dance, and mania, madness. The literal translation of choros mania is dancing madness. The name was adopted after a group of about 200 people danced so spiritedly on a bridge above the Maas River in Germany during 1278 that it collapsed, killing many participants. Survivors were treated in a nearby chapel dedicated to St. Vitus, and many were reportedly restored to full health. Prior to the twentieth century it was commonly referred to as epidemic chorea or choreomania. The word chorea was erroneously evoked to describe these behaviors, as participants were often thought to be exhibiting symptoms of chorea, a central nervous system disorder characterized by brief irregular jerking movements which can resemble dancing.
5. Cultural Interrelation: We can mention Pieter Breughel & The dance of St. John at Molenbeek (Brussels, Belgium).

S: 1. OED – (last access: 3 January 2016). 2. TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 3 January 2016). 3. (last access: 3 January 2016). 4. (last access: 8 June 2016). 5. (last access: 8 June 2016).


CR: athetosis, Huntington’s chorea, Parkinson’s disease, restless legs syndrome.