Types of Dance - Categories

Here are some of the most popular dance categories and types:

Ballroom Dances

These dances started appearing first in Italy, during the early years of Renaissance. Popularity of this kind of entertainment quickly swept over the Europe, United States and the World. Although many other simpler and more easily preformed types of dances caused the ballroom dances to lose some of their influence, modern worldwide dancing audience started resurrecting these immortal dances in ever increasing pace.

  • Waltz - This graceful and slow two person dance was first introduced in mid-19th century and was greatly popularized by the music of the famous composer Johann Strauss. Today this dance represents gold standard and the most famous dance of the ballrooms around the world.
  • Viennese Waltz - Original form of waltz, first performed at the Italian courts is today remembered as Viennese Waltz. It differs from the much more famous "English Slow Waltz" by having much faster 180 beats per minute and was the first who introduced "closed hold" between performers.
  • Tango - Originally created in the Argentinean region of Rio de la Plata, this dance is today known by many of its variations (Argentine tango, Uruguayan tango, Finish Tango and two types of Ballroom tangos - standard and American) and the fascinating sensual and energetic style.
Dance Traditional China
  • Cha-Cha-Cha - This incredibly rhythmic dance created in Latin America managed to meld together both the slow and very energetic movements, making it an instant hit among the dancers around the world.
  • Rumba - Popularity of this Cuban dance came from its focus on sensual hip movements of dance partners. Since its creation in 1930s many types of Rumba were created, most notably Cuban Rumba (with the style of the African slaves which created it), Catalan Rumba (with Spanish flavor), Flamenco Rumba and African Rumba.
  • Samba - Samba is a famous dance and musical genre that originated form the coast of Africa and land of Brazil. Today infectious rhythm of Samba is regarded as the national dance of Brazil, and its famous Brazilian Carnival gathers millions Samba dance fans every year.
  • Mambo - This Cuban dance that accompanies the music of the same name was introduced in 1930s, and quickly managed to gain popularity with the exploits of famous musicians and dancers such as Perez Prado, Benny Moré, Tongolele, Adalberto Martínez, Rosa Carmina and Lilia Prado.
  • Quickstep - Light-hearted and fast movement, powerful forms and syncopations, represent the core style characteristics of the Quickstep, one of the most popular ballroom dances today in the world. Originally developed in the 1920s dance scene of New York and the Caribbean, as the combination of the dances such as Charleston, a slow variation of Foxtrot, Peabody, shag, and one-step. The smooth and glamorous version of quickstep that is danced today across the world to 4/4 music beat of 48-52 measures per minute was standardized in 1927.
  • Jive - Jive is one of the five most popular Latin dances and is also known under the names of swing, boogie or boogie-woogie. It is considered to be one of the liveliest of all Latin dances, promoting the happy and bloopy type of performances, with lots of knee movement and hip rocking. Its official ballroom jive variation that is commonly danced at a speed of 176 beats per minute was formalized in the 1990s.
  • Bolero - Bolero is an Argentine dance, but it also has different international variations of the same name coming from Cuba and Spain. Today’s popular ballroom version of this dance is based on the Cuban bolero, and it is also known under the name “rumba”. This 2/4 or 4/4 music with a tempo of around 120 beats per minute that is well known all around the world.

African-American and Traditional Jazz dances

  • Charleston - This extremely popular dance type was popularized by famous tune called "The Charleston" by composer and pianist James P. Johnson. Charleston craze soon took over the enthusiastic dancers of Prohibition era of United States.
  • Swing - This dance is today synonym for the jazz and swing music of the 1920s-1930s.Because of the many styles of Jazz music, Swing also comes in many flavors - Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, Boogie Woogie, West Coast Swing and Rock and Roll.
  • Tap Dance - This extremely popular form of dance was first introduced during 1920s Prohibition era in United States. Originally created by the African slaves, tap dancing came into the mainstream with the performances of Nicholas brothers. Few short years later, tap dancing conquered Hollywood and then entire world.
  • Moonwalk - This extremely famous dance move that emuates the illusion of walking backwards was first performed by pop icon Michael Jackson in March of 1983, and ever since then it gained planetary fame. No single dance move ever created managed to receive this amount of popularity and recognition.
  • Boogie-woogie - This quick and energetic style of dance became widely popular during 1930s and 1940s.

Worldwide Dances / Latin dances

  • Salsa - This Latin dance is today one of the most popular dances in Latin America, North America, Europe and Australia. It's very sensual form, energetic movement and innovative choreography that was influenced by Mambo, Changuyi and Rumba made it very popular all around the world.
  • Flamenco - This famous Spanish dance originated from the region of Andalusia, and it gained its name only in 18th century. Its magical, passionate and energetic fusion of singing (cante), guitar playing (toque), dance and handclaps (palmas) made it famous in entire world and became one of the accepted heritages of entire humanity.
  • Argentine tango - Among many types of tango dance, Argentinian dance strives to preserve original form of tango that was first created in the region of Rio de la Plata.
  • Lambada - This famous dance that originated from Para, Brayil became internationally popular during 1980s. It managed to successfully fuse aspects of Forro, salsa, merengue, maxixe and the carimbó into unforgettable dance style.
  • Polka - Appearance of polka in mid-19th century created one of the largest "dance crazes" that our world ever seen. It managed to influence countless other dances, became national dance of many European countries and is extremely popular in entire Western hemisphere.
  • Jive
  • East Coast Swing - Swing dance has many variations, of which one of the most popular is the East Coast Swing. This social partner dance is known today under names of Eastern Swing, Jitterbug, American Swing, East Coast Lindy and Lindy originated between the 1940s and 1960s as the alternative to the other types of harder-to-learn swing dances.
  • Capoeira - Capoeira dance is a unique dance that can be found in the combat moves of the Afro-Brazilian martial art of the same name that takes heavy inspiration from music, dance, and acrobatics. Practitioners of this martial art are famous for being highly athletic dancers who can take advantage of dance-like moves to perform quick and complex maneuvers that can deliver a wide variety of kicks, spins, jumps and other techniques used in combat. Today, Capoeira is famous as one of the most celebrated cultural heritages of Brazil and South America.
  • Country/ Western Dances - - The country dance style is a social dance activity that is closely associated with American country and its Western traditions. It is made not from a single dance but encompasses many forms and styles of dance that can be performed to country-western music. No matter the type of music style or dance type, Country dance gatherings employ strong dancefloor etiquette and even ability to perform multiple dances styles on a dance floor at the single time.
  • Folk Dance - Folk dances represent musical, cultural heritage, reflections of daily life or ethnic history of people who live in a certain region or country. Popular all around the world in hundreds of unique variations and styles, folk dances (also known as traditional or ethnic dances) are usually performed at dance gatherings with the accompaniment of traditional music of the region. Majority of folk dances are not regulated, and they slowly morph during the passage of time.
  • Belly dance - Belly dance is one of the most famous oriental folk dances in the world. It is an expressive form dance that originated from Egypt, and it emphasizes the complex movement of the torso and entire body utilizing sudden percussive movements, unstopping fluid body motions and presence of small and fast shimmies, shivers and vibrations of the hips or the ribcage. Belly dance is regarded as very sensual, emotional and captivating.

Professional performance dance

Professional dancing was first introduced in the early years of Italian Renaissance when music, dance, arts and poetry started to rise in popularity after the millennia of medieval stagnation. Refined by the efforts of the France and Russia, ballet became the premier technical concert dance. Hailed as one of the most revered and most complicated dance of all time, ballet continued its rise to worldwide domination. In the modern times, many other professional dances came to be, such as Contemporary dance, Modern Dance, Concert dance, but none of them managed to surpass the complexity, physical strain, and heritage of ballet.

  • Ballet - Ballet is without any doubt one of the most highly technical and famous of all performance dances. It was originally created in 15th century Renaissance Italy, but it received popularization in countries such as France and Russia. It’s incredible popularity and influence has had a profound impact on techniques found in many other dances, and has even morphed the cultural histories of many countries around the world.
  • Contemporary dance - Contemporary dance is a highly complicated type of modern performance dance that originated in the mid-20th century as an alternative to classical dance styles (such as ballet), modern styles (free dance) and Jazz dance. Its focus on free leg movement, strong stress on the torso, disordered choreography, unpredictability, multiple and simultaneous actions, improvisation, and non-standardized costumes, sets, and lighting has pushed this dance into the forefront of modern art dance scene.
  • Concert Dance - Concert dance (also known as stage dance) is any choreographed dance that is performed for an audience, usually at the theatre or an organized gathering setting with the presence of set music. It is a polar opposite of social or participation dances, where participants can freely dance how and when they wish. Most popular concert dances are Ballet, Acrobatic dance, tap dance, modern dance, classical Indian or Persian dances and others.
  • Modern Dance - Modern dance is an influential performance dance that originated as a reaction against the classical ballet and its movement style. Shaped by many factors in late 19th and early to mid-20th century, modern dance evolved into a popular free dance style that includes elements of performance art, release technique, improvisation and contact improvisation.
  • Tap Dance - Among many types of popular dances around the world, tap dance may be one of the most unusual dances. Instead of focusing on body movements and dancing with a partner, tap dance is characterized by the creation of percussion-like musically-focused rhythm performance using tap shoes striking on the floor in accordance with the dancing music.
Dance Ballerina

Modern Dances

Advancements in music technology brought the birth of many new types of dances. Introduction of electronic and rock music brought the era of House, Punk, Rave and Disco dance. Faraway country of India did not cared much for those styles, and in accordance to the deeply seeded religious beliefs, they incorporated dance of their gods to everyday life and was and profitable Bollywood movie scene.

  • House dance - After the years of popularity of Disco, the genre of House music and house dance became born in New York and Chicago clubs. Built on top of subtler rhythms, riffs of the music and influences of jazz, Latin, soul, funk, R&B, and many other music styles, this social dance quickly found its way into homes and clubs across the entire world.
  • Punk dance - Born as an extension of 1960s garage rock, the punk rock managed to attract fans who enjoyed not traditional social dances of before, but more energetic and sometimes violent dance style of moshing (sometimes called slam-dancing) and headbanging. This dance styles were characterized by the strong and full body contact of live band audience, with frequent bumping and jostling both alone and in groups.
  • Rave dance - Fueled by the unending focus on pulsating beats, loud volume and psychedelic music effects, dancers of rave music are free to create their freestyle of movements, with no rules about dance routines or synchronized moves, usually in dark and crowded venues of dance clubs, nightclubs, and festivals. Dancers are encouraged to find inspiration in music, other people, and their mood.
  • Disco dance - The popular disco music genre of the 1970s would not found such popularity if it was not so easy to dance with. Fans of this music often wore extravagant and sexy clothing while dancing free form or structured versions of various disco dances, such as Bump, (several variations of) Hustle, Robot, Boogaloo, Watergate, and others.
  • Bollywood dance - The cultural history of India and the rest of southern Asia would not remain the same without the strong influence of Bollywood movie industry which has promoted Hindi dance music to the world. Created as the mix of traditional Indian music, Hindi dance traditions of the Indian sub-continent, and Middle-Eastern techniques, Bollywood dance is characterized by elaborate choreographies, energetic movements, and dances that involve a large number of participants.

Hip-hop & Funk dance

Dancing style of Hip-Hop evolved from the music style that was first introduced during 1970s. Powered by the great popularity, exposure in media, movies and television programs, hip-hop dances found a great foothold in United States, France, United Kingdom and South Korea. A very similar style called Funk was also created during 1970s, and is today regarded as one of the most influential pieces of Hip-hop dance styles.

  • Breakdance (Breaking) - One of the most athletic dances in the world, Breakdance, have originally found its popularity in the 1970s as the street dance in the New York’s Bronx. Since then it has spread all around the world where it was viewed as one of the most unique dance styles ever made. Usually danced solo, this dance requires talented dancers to perform the series of either choreographed or freeform dance and athletic movements alongside usually breakbeat, hip-hop or funk music.
  • Bounce - Born in the 1980s as a mix of New Orleans hip-hop music and the traditions of the Mardi Gras Indian chants, Bounce dance can today be danced both in its common and hypersexual form. Since it is so closely connected with the traditions of the Mardi Gras culture, many forms of Bounce today remain to be highly regional and can rarely be seen dancing outside of the music scenes of New Orleans, Miami, Baltimore, and other music hubs.
  • Electric boogaloo - Funk style of hip-hop was popularized not only by its music but also by the worldwide acceptance of the famous dance style called Electric Boogaloo, which was originally promoted in the 1970s by the dance group of the same name. Danced both by individuals and groups in both free form and choreographed manner, Electric Boogaloo is filled with the wide variety of moves that focused on the movement of legs, hips, knees and frequent use of exaggerated robotic-like moves.
  • Street Jazz - Created with the influences of African American slaves, Jazz dance gained popularity in the early 20th century as any form of dance that was performed alongside then new Jazz music. Highly improvisational and freeform, Jazz dance quickly morphed into a performance dance that emulated elements of ballet. Today, Jazz dance is enjoyed in many forms which are collectively called “modern jazz dance”.
  • Jookin' - Jookin’ or so-called “gangsta waling” style of dance is a street dance that originated quite recently in the 1990s on the streets of Memphis, Tennessee. The dance is characterized by the movement set that tries to emulate the “bounce” in the core beat of the crunk music that often accompanies this dance style. Even though this dance has found some popularity worldwide, it is still a regional dance that can rarely be seen outside of the city of Memphis.
  • Locking - Funk dance is incredibly diverse, and one of its famous variations is “locking”. The core gimmick of this style of hip-hop dance is to suddenly stop and hold the position (or get locked) in the middle of dance routines for a short while, and then suddenly resume the dance. It requires full body motion, but most of the dance is focused on top half of the body. Many Locking dancers prefer to use various acrobatic and physically demanding moves to augment their dance routines.
  • Popping - Very close in style with popular Electric Boogaloo, Popping is another variation of the funk-themed street dance from the 1960s and 1970s that found popularity all around the world. The technique that dancers need to master to properly dance Popping is controlled and quick contrasting and relaxing of muscles that will create the feeling of a jerk throughout the body. This jerk is referred as “pop” or “hit” and can be used to augment dance routines, movements and possess.
Dance Traditional China
Dance Ballerina