Pantomime and Mime are generally used interchangeably today by the uninformed public, but originally was and still does mean two different things. Mime was first, then later came the Roman Pantomime. Since the dawn of man used the 'language of gestures', not only to communicate but also to entertain, this dance form is the oldest known dance. The first known, Mime is said to be of 'Telestes' in the Æschylus' - Seven Against Thebes' in 467 B.C. Comedy arose from the mime in theater as well as the satire. It is said that the first origin of dancing, is the mention of the Maneros, which was a slow rhythmical song accompanied by the distinct movements and phases of a regular dance mime.
The Athenians (sixth century B.C.) were the first people of whom there is any real account, who introduced stage dancing as interludes to the regular drama. The oldest of these dance dramas was called the "Delian Dance of the Labyrinth, or the Flight of the Cranes," and was said to have been introduced by Theseus, King of Athens. These stage dances were the earliest representations of the pantomime version which has since been brought to such great perfection thru the ballet stage.
The Pantomimus (dancer) was an outgrowth of the Canticum (singing portion of the comedies,) and the painting called Fabulæ Atellanæ (Fabulae Atelianae) and in this an actor indicated by dramatic dancing or gesture the subject of the song. In later republican times this dancing became a separate branch of the art, and the Roman pantomimic dance may be said to have reached it's climax when performed and taught by Palates of Cilicia (Pylades) and Bathyllos (Bathyllus) of Alexandria, in the time of the early empire. The subjects of the Pantomimus were again the myths of the gods and heroes, favorite ones being "The Labours of Hercules," and "The surprising of Venus and Mars by Vulcan," Vulcan being always a comic part.
During the reign of Augustus Caesar (63 B.C.-14 A.D.), serious or dramatic and comic pantomime were brought to great perfection by Pylades and Bathyllus, who opened a Theater in partnership. Pylades represented solemn and pathetic subjects which became tragic Pantomime and Bathyllus became the more gay and animated. And so brilliant and astounding were their performances, that the people nearly all went wild with enthusiasm and for a time nearly all other names were forgotten for those of these celebrated masters of pantomime. Augustus became the patron of these great dancers, and passed laws for the protection and privilege of the pantomimists. It was his policy to cultivate other than political interests for the people, and therefore he turned his attention to providing them with amusements. The Italic dance of the Imperial Theatre supported by music and splendid dresses, was made the great attraction at Rome, and so all the great dancers were collected here. It for a time supplanted the older dramas and other amusements.
In 600 B.C., Ancient Mime (to mimic), originally from Dorian centers of the eloponnesus with emphasis in Sparta (Greece,) was mainly a silent comedy with an occasional sound or word thrown in for impact. Mime usually was about daily life or chores and events. The early Greeks had what was called phlyakes, which was early mime. These phlyakes wore animated costumes such as huge rear ends, exaggerated phalluses and actor's mask. These mimes acted or mimed out everyday life scenes.
Roman mimes (mimus) would also Juggle and do acrobatics (as well as serious acting at times). Women would also be allowed to perform as mimes in Rome, these mimes were always common folk, never nobility. Roman mimes plots were often very sexual. The roman mime eventually became the Pantomime. By the sixteenth century, pantomime was pretty much conventionalized by dance teachers. John Weaver (1673-1760) was said to be the father of English Mime (some say John Rich - Covent Garden.) The pantomime continued in favor till the decline of the Roman empire, when it was lost sight of in the darkness that for a time clouded the world.
Mime basically has three forms:
1) Rhythmic, when the mime is done to the rhythm of music accompaniment (Bind.) 2) Non-Rhythmic, when the mime is not constrained or bind to the rhythm of the music accompaniment. 3) Nonmusical, where no music is used at all by the mime.
Miming or mimicking can be simple or complicated, however a good mime will never hear from the viewer: "are you a tree or a dog?," the viewer will know exactly what is happening. Ballet-mime c5an be quite different however as the dancer is using the idea of mime or Pas D' Action, along with other sources of material to execute and focus on. Mime to the ballet dancer is a valuable tool for expression.
Pantomime is the oldest known dance to date and actually maybe the original dance form of all dances. Pantomime originated out of Mime from Greece and landed in Italy where it became an every day occurrence that was to become very popular. It is known to have existed among the Chinese, Persians, Hebrews, and Egyptians and has been observed in many other cultures. During Caesar's time period (Rome), mime was to be developed into Pantomime, masked dancers (Pantomimi) would use body movements and gestures to tell their stories in silence, or maybe because of a language barrier, to interpret to foreign dignitaries, these stories were usually about mythology or legend as well as comedy skits. These Pantomimes became very popular as a form of entertainment.
On Augustus, the great aim of Augustus was to gain the favor of the people, and also to drive all thoughts of politics from them, so he gave special attention to the theaters and other means of popular amusement, and passed laws for the protection of the pantomimists. They were given many advantages and privileges, amongst these being exemption from the "Jus Virgarum," but it was not long before they used this freedom against the peace of the city, so that, in the times of Roman Emperors Tiberius Augustus (42 B.C - 37 A.D.) and Titus Domitian (51-96 A.D.) they were severely oppressed and finally banished. However, the reigns of Roman Emperors Marcus Trajan (53 A.D. - 117 A.D.) and Marius Aurelius (121-180 A.D.,) saw them once more reinstated, and with increased honor, for they were now made decurians, and had the title of "Priests of Apollo," given to them. But from this time they began to degenerate.
Christmas pantomimes are called Harlequinades which usually have very little Mime but are still considered Pantomimes in nature. The modern dancing craze of the 1980's was called the "Robot," (Rhythmic) done by street dancers to disco music, as well as a lot of Michael Jackson's choreography and "Moon Walk" (Non-Rhythmic) and the "wave" (nonmusical) at a football game are also brief types of Pantomimes.