If you’re thinking about starting dance or signing your child up for their first class, there’s a lot to consider. The first is which style of dance to take up. From ballet to hip-hop, there are countless different types of dance out there, so it can be daunting to decide which is best for you.
To help you out, we’re breaking down some of the most popular dance styles, along with tips to help you decide where to begin the journey into dance.
How many styles of dance are there?
It’s difficult to put an exact figure on the number of dance styles; there are countless different types of dance around the world, and dance is constantly evolving with new styles coming up and existing styles developing. When it comes to traditional dance lessons, there are some common, popular styles you can choose from. We’ll detail them below.
Popular different styles of dance
One of the most famous forms of dance is ballet. Traditionally a concert dance accompanied by classical music, ballet is a highly technical dance style that encompasses a number of subgenres from classic through to contemporary. Trained ballet dancers wear pointe shoes to perform en pointe. When en pointe, the dancer is on the tips of their toes, creating the illusion of gliding across the floor.
Another traditional dance style that dates back to the 17th century is jazz. Jazz dancing grew in popularity in the 30s and 40s when jazz music was popularised; it became a highly sociable dance in bars. Jazz covers a number of styles, including the Charleston, swing, and shimmy.
Tap involves dancers wearing metal ‘taps’ in their shoes so a clear, crisp sound is created when the shoe hits the floor. Tap dances are specifically choreographed to accentuate this sound, so you’ll often see multiple tap dancers dancing together in a formation. While tap is traditionally found in musical theatre, you can also see tap in dance classes, performances, and competitions.
Hip-hop is relatively recent when compared to classic dance styles. It dates back to New York in the 60s and 70s, where it began as a street dance. Hip-hop dance evolved with the popularity of hip-hop music, which allowed it to enter the mainstream. It’s usually performed with a group, often competitively or in dance battles, and can involve freestyling.
Modern dance uses movement and emotions to tell a story and can encompass many different dance styles. It often takes inspiration from ballet. However, it doesn’t rely as much on traditional ‘rules’; there are fewer limitations and modern dance can be interpretive.
Ballroom is a form of partner dance that originated during balls in Italy and France. The term ballroom refers to the traditional dance hall often found in historic manor houses and now applies to both the space and the dance style. Today, ballroom is a common competitive dance and includes a number of subgenres, such as samba and tango. The most popular style of ballroom is the classic waltz, a slow dance with graceful turns.
Latin is a type of ballroom and folk dance that originated in Latin America. Latin is a social dance style usually performed with a partner, and includes specific dances including salsa, rumba, mambo, paso doble, and cha-cha-cha.
Acro dance combines traditional dance techniques with acrobatics. This blend of acro and dance is highly precise and technical, making it a popular competitive dance. In particular, acro has been popularised by circus groups such as Cirque du Soleil.
How to choose a dance style
So, we’ve detailed some of the most popular styles of dance. But if you’re thinking about classes, whether for yourself or your child, where do you begin?
There are a few considerations when starting dance and figuring out the right style for you. Here are some key things to think about.
Why you want to dance
First of all, what are your goals with dance? Are you looking for a sociable activity, do you fancy taking up a new casual hobby, or want to get your kids involved with something new? Maybe you’re looking to get fit, want to perfect your wedding’s first dance, or perhaps you’re even thinking about a long-term career. These things will all affect what style of dance is best for you.
Your physical fitness and skill
Dance is demanding, so it’s essential to understand your body’s capabilities. Different dance styles require different levels of strength and fitness; for example, fast-paced dances need a lot of stamina, while technical dances such as ballet require a certain level of strength and balance.
If you’re a parent thinking of getting your child started with dance, the good news is they can start early and build up their fitness as they go. If you’re beginning dance later in life and are concerned about your physical fitness, a slower, more relaxed form of dancing such as ballroom can be a good introduction.
While it’s never too late to get involved in dance, if you’re thinking about dance at a competitive or professional level, it’s better to get started as soon as possible so your body can adapt, become flexible, and build strength and stamina. This definitely doesn’t mean you should write off any dance style if you’re older, but just be aware that you may face more restrictions with certain technical dance styles if you’re coming into them later in life.
What you enjoy
Whether you’ve decided to take up dance as an adult or you’re enrolling your child in their first class, the most important thing is finding something enjoyable. Dance should be fun, and you’re much more likely to give it up if you’re not enjoying yourself. Many dance classes, especially for children and beginners, can combine a range of different dance styles, so you can see which are for you before you specialize.
If you think ballet might be the dance style for you, we’ve put together some more advice on How to Get Ready for Ballet Class. Or, if you’re looking to stock up on dance essentials, explore our range of adults dancewear and children’s dancewear.