Perhaps the best-known dancer from Greek antiquity is Hippocleides, who was a suitor for the hand of the daughter of Cleisthenes, the tyrant of Sicyon in the sixth century BCE. According to Herodotus, Hippocleides was “the most outstanding man in Athens for his wealth and good looks,” and Cleisthenes preferred him for his son-in-law “because of his courage” (or “manly virtue,” andragathiê) and because he was related to the Cypselidae of Corinth (Histories 6.127–8). On the day Cleisthenes was to make his decision, however, things took a wrong turn (Histories 6.129.2–4; trans. Waterfield 1998):
After the meal, the suitors competed with one another at singing and at public speaking. As the drinking progressed, Hippocleides had a clear lead over the others, but then he told the pipe-player to strike up a tune, and when the musician did so he began to dance (orchêsato). Now, although Hippocleides liked his own dancing a lot, Cleisthenes was beginning to look on the whole business askance. After a while, Hippocleides stopped momentarily and asked for a table to be brought in. When the table arrived there, he first danced a Laconian dance on it, then some Attic figures, and finally stood on his head on the table and waggled his feet around. Hippocleides' uninhibited dancing of the first and second sets of figures had already put Cleisthenes off having him as a son-in-law, but he kept silent because he did not want to scold him. When he saw him making hand gestures with his legs (echeironomêse), however, he could no longer restrain himself. “Son of Tisander,” he said, “you have danced away (aporchêsao) your marriage.” The young man replied, “Hippocleides doesn't care! And that is how the proverb arose.