Whether it’s performed for religious reasons or simply as a hobby, any form of dance has the power to bind people together from different parts of the world. Here’s a look at some of the various types of dances that are very much popular till date.
Dance is one of the most beautiful forms of art that has grown in leaps and bounds. Dance is no longer just a hobby; it is also one of the most lucrative professions as well. Besides, dance therapy is very much in vogue these days simply because the experience of dancing helps a person to heal from within. Dance is a form of expression that helps a person bring forth who they are, and what they’re passionate about.
The different types of dances and dance styles that are prevalent all over the world, are an indication of the popularity of this art form. From the olden days till date, dance has always been performed for social reasons or even if just something to aesthetically display. The various types of dances are also considered as an entertaining way to remain fit, with zumba, and other forms of dance, being incorporated into workout routines.
Every dance form has its own unique identity. Each dance is beautiful in its own way and has a different appeal to it. Every country has a distinctive approach about its dance style, with ethnicities worldwide merging dance forms, and even creating new ones, transforming the very idea of dance.
Types of Dance Styles
International Standard Ballroom Dances
Ballroom dancing is one of the most entertaining and elite styles of dancing. In the earlier days, ballroom dance was only for the privileged class of people, the socialites if you must. This style of dancing with a partner, originated in Germany, but is now a popular act followed in varied dance styles. Today, the popularity of ballroom dance is evident, given the innumerable shows and competitions worldwide that revere dance, in all its form.
This dance includes many other styles sub-categorized under this. There are many dance techniques that have been developed especially in America. The International Standard recognizes around 10 styles that belong to the category of ballroom dancing, whereas the American style has few forms that are different from those included under the International Standard.
It definitely does take two to tango and this dance also belongs to the American Style category. Like all ballroom dancers, the male has to lead the female partner. The choreography of this dance is what sets it apart from other styles, varying between the International Standard, and that which is American.
The waltz is danced to melodic, slow music and is an equally beautiful dance form. The waltz is a graceful form of dance, that requires fluidity and delicate movement. When danced by the International Standard norms, this dance is performed more closely towards each other as compared to the American Style.
Foxtrot, as a dance style, gives a dancer flexibility to combine slow and fast dance steps together. This social dance was named after the actor Harry Fox.
This style of ballroom dance is based on the original form of the waltz. There are many versions of this style of dance. It originated in the latter period of the 18th century.
This style belongs to the International Style of Ballroom dancing which originated in the 1920s. This dance includes many steps with quick momentum. As seen in the move ‘Dance With Me’, the Foxtrot is both fun, and a dance that requires synchronicity.
The cha-cha-cha simply called the cha-cha is a type of Latin-American dance which is very rhythmic in its appeal. This dance is energetic with slow movements as well.
This sensual dance is based on slow hip movement. Rumba belongs to the International Standard as well as the American style. This dance is known for the beauty of the steps that are coordinated on a slow rhythm.
This beautiful and energetic dance also has many forms. The steps may differ in Samba that is danced as per the ballroom style and the traditional style samba choreography.
This is yet another lively form of ballroom dance. This dance is also amongst the five dances that belong to the Latin American dance styles. Seen as a dance style that had taken the 30s and 40s (dancers moved mostly to jazz music) to perfect and pass on years later, still keeping it just as upbeat like it were back in the day.
This lively dance is also an International Latin dance style with less emphasis on hip movement. The basic structure of this Latin dance is based on the sounds and the movements used in Spanish bullfights.
American Style Dances
This type of dance style is basically slow and originated in Spain. It can be danced solo or as a couple.
Mambo is a Latin dance that makes the use of many steps which are considered complex in origin. Mambo is also known as the root of salsa dance.
East Coast Swing
This type of partner dance is based on the Lindy Hop. East Coast Swing dancing consists of many simple steps that follow the basics of Lindy Hop.
Styles of Ballroom Dances Worldwide
Salsa has its base in areas of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Latin America. This partner dance is a very sensual form that is known for its flirtatious and lively antics. While dancing the salsa, the couples can even perform in the same spot, without shifting around the dance floor. The dance steps show many influences from other dances such as the Mambo, Changui, Palo, Rumba etc. There are many other forms of Salsa such as the Cuban style, New York style, Colombian style, and the Los Angeles style.
This type of dance requires the partners to be together in a close position. The steps are often in circular movements or away from each other in a sideway fashion. There are many intricate steps to this dance.
This is a romantic style of dance that finds its origins in the Dominican Republic. The Bachata is a little similar to the Merengue.
Sexy and stylish, the lambada is a Brazilian dance that is performed as a couple or even in groups. This dance was particularly in the limelight because of the famous track ‘Lambada’ by a music group, ‘Kaoma’.
This is a style of dance that also refers to a type of music. The Polka is a fast-paced dance, which is also present in various styles.
The Hustle is performed as a Ballroom dance and is very popular in nightclubs as well. The Hustle was particularly popular due to the movie, ‘Saturday Night Fever’.
The Swing dance style originated in the 1920s – 1930s. There are many versions of the Swing dance such as the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, Boogie Woogie, West Coast Swing, Rock and Roll etc. Rock ‘n’ Roll is a very sporty form of dance that is extremely popular as well. Boogie Woogie is another dance style that is seen mainly in Europe. This dance is also seen in competitions.
Ballet is the kind of dance that a lot of us wish we could mimic, given the way the dancers glide over the dance floor, often a dance that portrays a story or idea. This dance was developed in France and Russia. Classical ballet is the most formal and common style of ballet. Apart from this, there is Neoclassical ballet and Contemporary ballet.
Michael Jackson popularized breakdancing to a huge extent. Breakdancing is actually a form of street dance that was a part of the hip-hop culture. Breakdance is relatively a male dominated type of dance style. This type of dance is characterized with ‘dance battles’ between groups. The ‘Downrock’ and the ‘Freeze’ are some of the typical forms of breakdance.
This style is actually a street dance style and is a combination of dance moves combined with loads of attitude as well as colorful dance-wear. In the early days, this style was generally seen in breakdancing and from there on, one could witness many innovations of this dance style. There are various other styles used with hip hop dance, which includes popping and locking. The hip-hop outfits have to be selected with care, which helps to add to the overall appeal of the dance form.
This category includes dances that make use of footwork. This type of dance generally require one to have a rigid stance with more movement of one’s feet. Step dances are basically social dances. A good example of this dance would be Irish dancing.
Tap dance is an extremely popular form of dance. Here the emphasis is on the movements of the feet and steps that create a tapping sound. This dance finds its origins in the United States. The tapping sound is due to the presence of metal plates on the soles of the shoes.
The flamenco dance and music is very much a major part of the culture of Spain. The beautiful songs play a major role for this type of dance style. This beautiful style is also particularly noticeable due to the gorgeous costumes. The music always includes the flamenco guitar.
This dance style is one of the main dances in Portugal. It involves the tapping of the feet and quick changes of the position. This is a folk dance, which has its origins in Southern Spain. However, there are many theories about the origins of the same.
Jazz dance finds its origins in the African-American culture. From the olden days till date, there are many influences that have added variety to this dance form. One can see many overlapping steps in jazz dancing, which are common to others. These steps in Jazz dance that mimic other forms are the ball change, the pivot step, the toe rise, the pirouettes, the jazz walk etc. Jazz dance is basically an energetic form that is equally graceful like other dances. This type of dance can also incorporate various styles.
Folk dances are always performed in groups at social events. This does not mean the dancers need to be professionally trained. A folk dance can be attempted by all types of common folk. Every country and region has its own unique style of folk dance. There are various forms of folk dances one can see all over the world. From the energetic Indian folk dances to the Scottish country dances, they have their own beauty and charm.
Modern dance involves the use of many dance steps that are unusual and often interpret a dancer’s emotions and mood. The dancer in this case typically performs on bare feet. In Modern dance, it’s not only the choreography that speaks about the emotions to be conveyed. The lighting, costumes and props are used with great creativity to arrange interesting and unusual dance sequences.
These types of dances are performed with country music. These social dances follow the typical pattern where the male leads in the dance and the partner follows. Therefore, this dance style includes both, the partner as well as the group dances. The country/western dances, which are partner based, include the Two Step, Waltz, Polka, Cotton Eyed Joe etc. The group dances include the Line dance, the Square dance, traditional Square dance, modern Western square dance etc.
This dance is a form of folk dancing. Here, the couples have to dance in two lines. These couples also have to face each other. There are various sequences, which couples need to perform. This social dance is a very fun form and is also very easy to learn.
There are many theories about the origins of this form of dance. Some say this dance originated in ancient upper Egypt where a few say its basics were developed in Uzbekistan and then were passed on to India. Belly dance is more particularly danced in nightclubs and is now also emerging as a new way to remain fit, especially for the ladies. The basic steps involve the use of circular movements by the hips with a shimmy for the shoulders. Belly dancing would require one to be really flexible. The costumes are rather bold and often revealing. This is sometimes combined with face veils and hip belts with embellishments.
Traditional Indian Dances
India is a land of great mix of cultures, with a wide variety of dances that can range from folk to the classical. The Indian dances all vary as per the region it originates from and each have a distinct style from the steps to the kind of costumes worn. Besides, these also represent a particular culture. The steps are based around a strict style that is followed by the people who know them well. Improvisations come in later. They also use ‘Natya’ or acting to portray stories, often of folklore and myth.
Kathak is characterized with fast footwork and numerous ‘chakkars’ or spins used in the compositions. Originating in northern part of India, ‘katha’ in Sanskrit means to tell a story. Kathak, like all other traditional dances of India, follows the pattern where the guru passes on the knowledge to the student (or ‘shishya’). Kathak is also performed in various styles or Gharanas, such as the Lucknow Gharana, Jaipur Gharana, Rajgarh Gharana and the Banaras Gharana. Today, with the popularity of fusion, Kathak is combined with newly incorporated steps to keep up with modern times, while still remaining traditional.
The main feature about Kathakali is the striking costumes and makeup. This is a form of dance drama that originated in the Southern state of Kerala. The makeup used is one of the most interesting features of this dance. This is an elaborate procedure, which is combined with a large decorative headgear.
This has its origins in Kerala. A very graceful dance, the performance in this case are generally solo and mainly performed by women. This includes very rhythmic movements with elaborate mudras. Mudras are hand gestures used to express a particular meaning.
Bharatnatyam originates from a place in the south known as Tamil Nadu. This uses the base of storytelling combined with pure dance movements. The dance is also distinctive due to the particular styles of dressing and makeup. The origins of this dance go back to the Natya Shastra. In the ancient days, this was performed only by the Devdasis. However, in recent times, this dance is not only popular in India, it has traveled across the globe as well.
This classical dance has its origins in Orissa, India and can be distinguished from other styles of Indian dance due to the specific movements of the body. Like all other forms, the knowledge is passed on from the teacher to the student (guru to shishya).
This classical Indian dance has its roots in Andhra Pradesh. Danced on the accompaniment of Carnatic music, this dance is also gaining popularity outside India. The style may be a little similar to Bharatnatyam, however, there are many unique steps that belong purely to this dance.
Manipuri is quite different from other forms of Indian dance in terms of the costume as well as the steps. The dancer uses subtle movements, basically, using many rhythmic movements that qualify as gentle and simple, without pomp. The costume can be distinguished easily due to the stiff cylindrical skirt.
This style originates from Assam. This was the creation of Sankardeva. As per the records, it’s observed that only males perform this dance style. Initially, there was a delay in the inclusion of this style of dance as a traditional Indian dance. However, since 2000, it received the recognition by the Sangeet Natak Academy.
A very lively dance, the Bhangra has its origins in Punjab. The energetic movements, particularly of the men, accompanied by the beating of the drums are a sight to behold. The costumes are colorful and add to the liveliness of the atmosphere. Bhangra music and dance is now incorporated even in pop music and has spread to many areas around the world.
This folk dance is very popular and was first seen during the Peshwa rule. This dance is accompanied by typical music where the lead dancer is accompanied by a group of other dancers in the background. This has its origins in Maharashtra.
This is often compared to the social dances that are seen in the West. Garba is danced in a circular format amongst groups and has its origins in Gujarat. Like other Indian dances, this is performed also for religious purposes. Today, Garba also sees influences from Raas – another traditional dance. The dandiya raas is very popular and is performed with sticks.
Dekhni is one of the popular folk dances of Goa. This dance has an interesting combination of Western as well as Indian music, and is always centered around a girl. The theme is based on a girl who wants to cross the river and needs to persuade the boatman to help her cross the same. The other dancers carry small lit clay lamps.
The Indian film industry (Bollywood) is known for its inclusion of the song and dance routine in most of its movies. Form the olden days till date; there has been a massive change in the styles that are presented. The dances in the olden days were subtle and often incorporated folk dances, or western dancing (as seen in Indian black and white films). However, in recent times, women especially have been given a bold look and there is the merging of discotheque sequences and steps that are very typical of Bollywood. The craze for this song and dance routine is such that there are special shows designed for the fans abroad so that they can get a glimpse of their favorite stars dancing to Bollywood tracks.
This was a glimpse of all the types of dance styles that are performed all across the world. It’s interesting to note the different variations and styles that dancers use. The talent has grown exponentially in the past couple of years, with even kids taking the limelight. There is no limit when it comes to dancing, since change and improvisation is at its peak, with dance taking a whole new platform in today’s world.