dance of death
Originally a spectacular play which has been traced to the 14th century when the Black Death and other epidemics had impressed the popular imagination.
These plays were given in the churchyard; they were opened by a sermon on death, then a series of figures resembling skeletons would appear.
The dancing movement was a later development.
Traces of these plays are found in Germany, France, England, and Italy.
Pictorial representations were made on walls of cemeteries, etc.
In engraving the most famous versions are those of Holbein and Dürer.
New Catholic Dictionary