Classification Essay, Writing Assignment

Types of Dance


Art has different forms of expression in which dance is the most prominent one. Dance that was used to be a hobby once has now grown into a profession and is perceived as an industry. Dance allows a person of any age and gender to heal and helps to express what they are, feel, and aim at. This art has been practiced for centuries and is now performed in different varieties all over the world. Most dances have been evolved from different cultures and represent those geographic areas heritage.

Every dance originating from a specific region, culture, or occasion has its unique identity and carries an appealing form of expression that can only be stated and revealed in dance. Following are some of renowned and widely performed dances (Carter).

Ballroom Dance

Ballroom dance originating from Germany was once enjoyed and practiced only by elite class people, which required a couple to perform. Nowadays, it is popular across all social classes and communities (Malnig). Following are some types of Ballroom Dance:

Salsa: It is a very sensual dance in which couples give each other flirty actions, postures, and lively antics. Often, couples do not move around in Salsa. The most commonly associated steps of Salsa are three weight changes in a single four beats measure. When dancer does not step over a beat then usually taps or kicks. A break step changes the direction of the dancer. Music contains 160 to 220 beats per minute.

Merengue: Partners are in a close position dancing in a fashion that they move around in circles or away from each other in a lateral movement. Leader holds the follower from his right hand on his/her lower back. The left of the leader holds the left hand of follower at the eye level.

Lambada: Its origins are from Brazil. Lambada is generally performed in groups and is based on the famous track Lambada. Legs are arched moving side by side, turning or swaying. Women generally wear short skirts and men perform with long trousers. Movement of hips is very vital for the expression just like the belly dance.

Tango: Originating from Argentina and Uruguay, Tango is popular because of its steps to music, melody, and head snaps, which are also inherited from the same regions. Tango is included in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. This danced evolved on the basis of many cultural factors like fashion in clothing and crowding if venue.

Indian Dance

This region is a great mix of cultures and has introduced wide varieties of folk and classical dances varying not only in terms of steps, but also music and costumes, which have their own unique expression and theme (Singh).

Kathak: It originates from Southern India with classical and modern themes. It evolved in 16th century and has influences of Persian and Central Asian dance. Kathak is the most notorious of all Indian dances, which requires fast foot working and rotations with various compositions. The costume of females is generally Sari tightly held with body sometimes in order to give more dance freedom. Males generally wear a dhoti or a tight trouser in white color with bare chest.

Mohiniattam: Introduced in Kerala, Mohiniattam dance involves hand gestures, which are used to express the theme and are generally performed in solo by women is a very graceful dance. The theme of this dance is love and devotion to God. The word Mohiniattam has evolved from Mohini which means a lady who fascinates on lookers and aattam means graceful body movements. Women are heavily jeweled wearing Saris of bright colors.

Bharatnatyam: Tamil Nadu dance involves storytelling and requires royal dressing and make up with theme to the God of Dance. Originally was introduced by temple dancers. Carnatic music is used in this dance and has inspirations from temple of Chidambram.

Bhangra: Punjabi energetic dance performed to drum beats by men dressed in colorful clothes is very lively. Due to its vigorous nature, it has been incorporated into pop music by South Asians. Dhol and Chimta are the instruments used for playing music and is based on folk rhythms. Men wear Pagri a huge cap of unstitched cloth and Chaadra wrapped around the waist with colorful waists.


Cuban dance Mambo first originated because of striving towards freedom. It comprises complicated footsteps. Making the partner to swing to the music beat in an expressive manner is the main course of this dance. Tempo is fairly slow with 32 to 56 beats a minute. Movement of hip is very vital to perform this dance. The Cha Cha dance has been originated from Mambo.

Belly Dance

Belly dance performed in solo by women was introduced by Middle East dance lovers and artists. Following are its two main forms:

Raqs Baladi: This belly dance type is grounded; arms are slightly stretched and bent in elbows as well as there are intricate footsteps. This was practiced mostly by the working or middle class of Egypt.

Raqs Sharqi: In this belly dance, upper body moment is abundant and mainly performed off the hips and balls of the feet with stretched arms and shoulder shimmies (Sharif).


Dance is a mode of expression that helps in conveying message in an artistic manner. Every dance has its own theme, style, manner in which it is performed and music. The diversity and variation in different dances is due to the difference in cultures. Also different consequences occurred during its evolution period play an important role to set its theme and manner of expression.

Works Cited

  • Carter, Alexandra. The Routledge Dance Studies Reader. Taylor & Francis, 2010. Print.
  • Malnig, Julie. Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader. University of Illinois Press, 2009. Print.
  • Sharif, Keti. Bellydance: A Guide To Middle Eastern Dance, Its Music, Its Culture And Costume. Allen & Unwin, 2005. Print.
  • Singh, Shanta Serbjeet. Indian Dance: The Ultimate Metaphor. Ravi Kumar, 2000. Print.
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