The art of expressions becomes beautiful and nuanced when dance becomes its outlet. It is here that not just the mind, but the body too gets intertwined in performing the required expression of anger, joy, sadness or pain. The movement of every body part along with facial expressions becomes a great tool in dance, be it any form. Given the variety of cultures we are surrounded with, it is easy to understand that there are numerable dance forms. While we might be aware of some of those, being aware of all of them is no child’s play. Here, we have a list of top 15 dance forms around the globe. Read ahead to know about the same in some detail.
Cancan is one high energy and physically demanding music hall dance. Generally, it is performed by a chorus line of female dancers who wear elaborate skirts, petticoats and black stockings in the name of costume. The common dance steps within this form include high kicking of the leg, lifting the long frilly skirt.
A Balinese dance form, Kecak developed in the 1930’s. The dance form depicts a war scene from the mythological story of Ramayana. Within the performance, 150 dancers wearing checked covering around their waists chant “cak” and move their heads and arms in such a way that it depicts warfare. Kecak comes from an exorcism inducing dance form by the name of sanghyang. If looking for reference of the same, you may opt for David Attenborough’s 1969 BBC documentary, The Miracle of Bali’s 1st and 3rd episode.
It is a native dance form of the southern Spanish regions of Andalusia, Extremadura and Murcia. Flamenco comprises of singing known as cante, playing of guitar, dance which is called baile and rhythmic hand-clapping. The most authentic version of flamenco can be seen in the performance of the dance form during wedding celebrations in Spain. There are different types of flamenco, characterized by factors like stamping of the feet, curving or extending of the head and body and so on and so forth.
Fandango is a couples’ dance that originated in Spain. It involves singing as well as dancing. The dance form is usually accompanied by guitars, castanets and even hand-clapping.
The origin of Kabuki can be traced back to the 17th century in Japan. The performers of this dance form were also available for prostitution. The theatres where Kabuki was performed came to be seen as the place for checking out the latest fashion trends and current events. ‘Kabuki’ meant something which was out of the ordinary.
Aerial dance has been seen as a sub-genre under modern dance which was first performed in the United States in the 1970’s. As the name goes, this dance form requires the dancer to perform in midair hanging from an apparatus attached to the ceiling. This set up allows a lot of space for innovative and creative dance movements.
Tango, to begin with, is majorly a partner dance. It originated around 1890s along the river plate which was the natural border between Argentina and Uruguay. The partners in tango dance either with a fixed open embrace or in a closed embrace in which one follows the other chest to chest, or are in constant touch from the thigh area. There are different styles of tango namely tango argentine, tango liso, tango milonguero, contact tango, ballroom tango etc. On August 31, 2009, UNESCO approved a joint proposal presented by Argentina and Uruguay to include the dance form in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.
Belly dance is known to be inclusive of a variety of dance forms depending on the region and the country that it is being practiced in. Maximum expression that is to be communicated comes to rely on the movement of the torso and the hips of the dancer. The mostly worn costume for this dance form is a tight upper covering and a heavily decorated belt complementing a decorated skirt. It was the Latin American superstar Shakira who popularized belly dancing in the 2000s.
Salsa originated in New York bearing strong influences from Latin America. The ‘lead dancer’ uses his arms to communicate to the ‘follower’. Even as a dancer shifts his body weight while making dance moves, the upper body remains in a level and it is majorly the hips, the body and the legs that engage in a more expressive movement. Different styles of salsa can be identified on the basis of timing, foot patterns, body rolls, turns and figures, attitude, dance influence and the way the partners hold each other in open or closed embrace.
Waltz is a ballroom couple dance performed usually in close positions. In 1816 waltz was a new dance form in England. The fact that the man clasped his arms around the waist of his female partner evoked critical view of the same in the eyes of some. Several Victorian novels like Pride and Prejudice give a good description of the social utility of waltz as a ballroom dance.
Kathak is one of the eight dance forms of Indian Classical Dance. The word in Sanskrit means ‘one who tells story’. A typical female costume of a kathak dancer is a saree, the way it is worn everyday or is tied up on the waist to facilitate greater freedom of movement while dancing. Lehenga choli is yet another costume that is largely used by kathak performers. The male costume on the other hand merely comprises of a dhoti tied in Bengali style remaining bare chested. The copper bells or ghungru unlike in Bharatnatyam is here woven along a thick string.
Suggestive of the name, Tap dance involves tapping of the shoes on a wooden floor. The shoes worn for this dance form has a metallic sole on the heel and toe which facilitates the sound. There are two varieties of tap dancing which are rhythmic tap and Broadway tap. Tap dancing can also be done in a cappella style within which the only source of the music available to the dancers in the music created from their tapping.
This is a street dance originated basically among African American and Puerto Rican youth. Also known as b-boying, it consists of four major movements, toprock (steps performed in standing positions), downrock ( floorwork movements involving the use of hands), power moves (acrobatic moves) and freezes (sudden stylish poses in a pause).
Indian classical dance, Bharatnatyam, originated in the temples of Tamil Nadu. This dance form is largely known for the beauty and tenderness of its graceful poses and expressions. It is practiced likewise by male and female dancers. Bharatnatyam dancers wear anklets having numerous copper bells attached to it. The precision and excellence of the dancer is judged by the control s/he has over the ringing of her/his anklets and thereby the control s/he exercises over the same. There are varieties of costumes for this dance from. Some of them restrict dance movements while others do not.
Ballet as an art originated in the 15th century and developed as a concert dance form in France and Russia. Gaining proficiency in this dance form requires years and years of training. The most popular type within ballet is Late Romantic Ballet which is performed by female dancers. Features like pointe work, and flowing movements shown by female dancers wearing short white tutus is a typical characteristic of this sub-type of ballet. There are further different types within this dance form namely Russian Ballet, French Ballet, Italian Ballet, Contemporary Ballet and Neoclassical Ballet.
While these may have originated couple of centuries before, but even today they continue having the same and in some cases, even more dignified charm.