Different types of dances

Dance is one of the most primitive means of non-verbal communication which is in fact not only used by humans, but also animals such as bees and other animals during the mating season. Dancing can be for competitive purposes, during a social event or a ceremony, participatory or performed for an audience. Dance movements can have special significance that is they can be symbolic, like in the case of the Indian Classical Dances or can be done just for the fun of it, like folk dances. The sheer variety in the kinds of dances, varying from country to country stands proof of the uniqueness of identity of each kind of dance. Dance can be classified into different kinds under different categories. For example, one the basis of the number of dancers, it can be classified into: solo dance, partner dance and group dance. If one classifies dance on the basis of purpose, he/she might come up with types like social dance, erotic dance, ceremonial dance, performance dance, etc. On the basis of styles, dance is divided into the following types:


  • International Standard Ballroom Dances
  • Folk Dances
  • American Style Dances
  • Ballroom Dances Worldwide
  • Indian Classical Dances



Though it is difficult to decipher the exact time, place and reason of origin of dance, experts have opined that dance existed from the prehistoric era. They were originally used to find a collective identity among groups by reaching a state of trance together. Dance was also an important part of rituals and ceremonies and celebrations. Evidences are found in prehistoric cave and rock paintings. In fact, dance was, and still is in some parts of the world, a very important part of healing rituals where the performers believe the dance to have magical abilities.




Ballroom Dance – Originating in Germany, ballroom dancing is one of the most elite forms of dancing which was seen only among the higher classes of people in the earlier days. However, it has now become a popular dance considering the number of events worldwide where ballroom dancing is performed and as a matter of fact, even competitions held. This form has evolved over time and now there are many sub-categories of ballroom dancing. According to The International Standard, there are ten different styles of dancing which fall under the category of ballroom dancing. There is a different classification according to the American style. Roughly speaking, these are the ten styles of ballroom dancing:-

  • Tango
  • Waltz
  • Foxtrot
  • Viennese Waltz
  • Quickstep
  • Cha-cha-cha
  • Rumba
  • Samba
  • Jive
  • Paso Doble


Folk Dances –
The main difference between folk dances and other forms of dances is that the former is created by a group or a community and not by a choreographer. Derived from tradition, folk dances are performed with traditional music during social events. The training of folk dances is also received in an informal manner. Many modern dance forms have their origins in the folk dance. All countries, have their own form of folk dance. Some of the most well-known European folk dances include clogging, the Irish dance, the Maypole dance, the English Country dance, the Turkish dance, the Sword dance, the Fandango dance, the Contra dance. The Persian dance and Azerbaijani dance refer to the traditional dances of the respective countries. Belly dance is a traditional dance form of the Middle-East. Georgia also has numerous traditional dance forms, some of which are Kartuli, Khorumi, Partsa, etc. India is also rich in it’s tradition of folk dance- Ghoomar, Bhangra, Dekhni, Bihu are some of the most well-known. Scotland is also very famous for it’s rhythmic folk dances.



Bolero, Mambo and East Coast Swing are the three main kinds of American Style dances. Bolero has it’s origin in Spain and gives dancers the option of dancing alone or with a partner. Latin America is where Mambo originated which is the root inspiration for Salsa. In order to perform the East Coast Swing, one needs a partner. It is based on the movements of Lindy Hop.



Following are some of the most popular ballroom dances all over the world:

  • Salsa
  • Merengue
  • Bachata
  • Lambada
  • Polka
  • Hustle
  • Ballet
  • Breakdance
  • Hip Hop
  • Step Dance
  • Tap Dance
  • Flamenco
  • Jazz



India is known all over the world for it’s dances. Apart from the folk dances of each state, there are different classical dance styles which vary greatly from one another with respect to movements, costumes and their symbolic meanings. More often than not, Indian classical dances tell a story or convey a message to their audiences. Some of these Indian classical dances are:

  •  Kathak
  •  Bharatnatyam
  • Odissi
  • Kathakali
  • Mohiniattam
  • Manipuri
  • Kuchipudi

Dance is one of those mediums of expressions where new styles and forms are born with improvisation and influence. The Modern Dance is one such form which combines different kinds of movements to express emotions. Again, the Bollywood dance, which is basically the dance seen in popular films of India, does not fall under any particular style of dance and is more a combination of western, folk and sometimes a few ballroom dancing styles. As newer forms develop with the passing of time, the different types of dance cannot be structured in the same way forever.

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