Dragon Dancing

Dragon dance is a traditional Chinese dance that is most commonly celebrated and seen at festive celebrations and gatherings. Experienced and trained dancers are the ones who perform the dance. The dance involves a high level of skill and coordination as dancers manipulate and control a long dragon figure where there are poles to hold onto by each performer and the dragon is broken into five sections. The focus of the dance and the audience is on the dragon’s movements which can and are captivating and interesting. Since the focus is more heavily on the dragon’s movements, there is not as much fancy footwork involved in dragon dancing.

The most common and popular place for dragon dancing is at Chinese New Year celebrations, not just in China, but all over the world. These dragons are a longstanding symbol of Chinese culture and are a symbol and representation of good luck for the community and the nation at large. In addition, dragons are long believed to be powerful, dignified, fertile and wise creatures, making them a great symbol for a new year. In addition, the fierce appearance but jolly personality of the dragon is something that the Chinese culture has always embodied, emulated and appreciated. In addition to the dragon itself being a symbol of power and dignity, the movements shown in traditional Dragon dances also symbolize power and dignity.

The key to successful dragon dancing is in the cohesiveness of the team performing. The timing is everything in assuring the dragon’s movements are swift, properly timed and executed. Even a small mistake can ruin an entire performance. In addition to coercion with fellow performers and teammates, there is also a requirement for performers to stay on time and on rhythm with the beat of the drum to which the dance is performed.

There are competitions for those who are proficient at the cultural dance and the competitions are held all over the world, not just in China. There are rules and regulations in terms of movement and requirements so often the dances differ from those that may be seen at other festive celebrations. There are judges and criteria that all performances, teams, individuals and dragons must meet to be eligible to win these various competitions.

Essential Items to Carry When Going For a Dance Session

To some, dance is done just to pass time but there are others who take it seriously. Being serious with dance means that you have to invest in the essentials required during a dance session. When undertaking a dance session, comfort is key so that you can make the best out of your session.

Getting comfortable over the dancing period requires a number of essentials. Those who participate in dance competitions are very keen to observe the requirements so that they can emerge as winners. Some of the essentials in a dance session include:

Dancing shoes

Dancing involves a lot of body movements and therefore you need to have a comfortable pair of shoes. The dancing shoes should also have a good grip especially in cases where the stage is a slippery one. This helps you avoid accidents while dancing. There are shoes specifically designed for dancing and you ought to acquire one before getting the stage.

Towel

A dance session is usually filled with a lot of activity and thus the dancers sweat. The main purpose of the towel is to wipe your sweaty skin so that you may continue dancing comfortably. Especially when dancing as a group, wiping yourself is important so that your partner can get comfortable dancing with you. You may also carry an extra towel to use when taking a shower after the session.

Water Bottle

Our bodies need to be hydrated regularly for healthy living. For this reason, dancers are required to carry water during dance sessions. Dancing can be at times tiring and will make you get thirsty. That’s why dancers are advised to carry water to quench their thirst.

Snack

Hunger will make you underperform during the dance session. A snack is not to make you full but it will help to keep you going during the session. You can take the snack between intervals to re-energize your body. You should be careful about your choice of snack. Dancers should opt for healthy snacks like fruits.

Reading Material

During a dance session, you will not be dancing all the time. There are many dancers in a dance session and hence everyone has their own time to perform. During breaks, you can read your materials such as books and novels. Reading will keep you relaxed as you wait for your turn.

First Aid Kit

This is a very crucial item for dancers. During a dancing session, there is a probability that one may get injured and thus the kit will help you nurse the small injuries. The kit should contain things such as antiseptic wipes and bandages.

For a successful dance session, you must have the above items.

Hip Hop Dance

Hip Hop, as it relates to dance, is an all-encompassing term that covers several street and other dance styles that are typically set to hip hop style music. There are different types of hip-hop dances. One of the original types of hip- hop is breaking which became popular in the 1970’s. There were dance crews who would break dance with and against each other. Hip Hop dancing was made mainstream by television shows in the 1980’s.

There are now many other types of dances including studio versions of hip-hop as well as jazz funk types of hip hop. The distinguishing factor for many hip-hop dances include the freestyle elements whereby dancers improvise to the beat of the music they are dancing to and create master pieces on the spot.

Today, there are lots of hip-hop dancers and enthusiasts all over the world and hip hop has evolved to be a competitive sport, a recreational activity, a lifestyle and even a way for people of all shapes and sizes to get and stay fit. It is a widespread form of dance and activity that is enjoyed all over the world.

Romantic Benefits of Dance

Taking dance lessons or learning to dance with your partneris a great way to enhance your connection romantically. For those who have been together for long periods of time, it serves as a great way to keep the flame and connection alive and strong. For those who may be new to dating or even those on a first date, dance is a great way to get to know someone and to establish a strong connection through body movements and the expression and closeness that dance offers.

Dance also offers a way for couples to express themselves which can help with communication and the deep level of communication and understanding.

In addition, it is a great way to get fit together and stay active in a creative and unique way that also will keep your heart, head and body happy and healthy.

Another benefit is simply the ability to dance. The skill can come in handy at parties, events and especially at your future wedding.

There are many types of dance you can try as a couple:

  • Ballroom dance
  • Salsa Dance
  • Contemporary dance
  • Cha cha cha
  • Tango
  • Hip Hop

Social Elements and Benefits of Dance

The benefits of dance span beyond just physical benefits and advantages. There are benefits for you socially and mental as well, some of which include:

  • Sense of community; dancing regularly and participating in dance classes or even a dance troupe, you will make new friends and create a sense of community which can be a great way to keep a healthy balance in your life.
  • Stress reduction; dancing has proven to help reduce stress and anxiety as it stimulates your brain and serves as a way to relax and unwind. It helps manage stress which physically can also help with blood pressure, cholesterol,and reduce the likelihood and risks of issues or complications such as heart issues, stroke, etc.
  • Pride; performing and mastering any sport brings a great sense of pride and joy and with dance, there is an opportunity to perform and express oneself with the option to do so in front of others or keep it a personal experience.
  • Travel and learning; learning new types of dance give insight into other cultures and communities which is a great way to learn about other people and their cultures.

Russian Dance

Russian dance, like dances in many other cultures, is an integral part of Russian culture and has been for a long time. In fact, many types of Russian dance date as far back as the 10th century. Because of Russia’s size as a country, there were many invasions and contacts with other countries and as such, a mix of different European dances and music influenced and helped create Russian folk dances. Traditionally, it was lower class Russian citizens and members of Russian society who would perform for the upper class who would watch the performances and not participate in the dance.

Today, Russian folk dances still play a role in the culture but the various Russian dances are no longer part of the lower class, mid and upper class can and do all participate in Russian dances whether for recreational or competitive purposes. There are even Russian ballets that are world famous.

The unique characteristics of Russian dance include furious and gentle music that the choreography is set to and performed to.

In addition, the squat work and the infamous knee bend and musical and rhythmic foot stomping are unique and differentiate Russian dance from many other styles of dance. The squat work is impressive as the squats are done at varying tempos as music speeds up and slows down and require serious balance and coordination.

The costumes are detailed and traditionally were handmade. The clothing is designed depending on the occasion as often special dances are done for different special occasions. Headdresses (called Kokoshnik ), embroidered shirts, aprons and even belts are also common costume elements for women. Red is one of the most common and important colours in these dances as it associated with the idea of beauty and being beautiful.

Costumes are beautifully designed with detail. Typically, the clothing for the dances is based on specific events, such as holidays, and varies between these events. Women wear holiday headdresses, embroidered shirts, belts, and ornamented aprons. Men wear shirts, a belt, narrow pants, and high boots. Red is incorporated in many of the costumes because it is associated with beauty in the Russian tradition. In Russian dances woman and girls often carry a pocket square with them. Girls and women often wear the traditional Russian headdress during performances.

There are several types of traditional Russian dance;

  • Barynya
  • Kamarinskaya
  • Khorovod
  • Kozachok
  • Squat Dance
  • Troika
  • Tropak
  • Yablochko

Russian dance is celebrated, observed and participated in all over the world by more than just those of Russian descent or with Russian roots. There are many ways to enjoy Russian dance styles. It is not an easy form of dance to learn as it is deeply technical.

Irish and Celtic Dance

Irish dance is not just one type of dance but rather a grouping of traditional dances that originated and are rooted in Irish culture. The dances can be and are danced solo, in small groups and in large groups as well. Performances are both recreational and competitive. These types of dances, in their original form and as they came to fruition, were influenced by French and English dancers in the 18th as well as the 19th century. Dance teachers were travelling experts who taught dancers and moved from city to city to do so, meaning that the dances continued to evolve as teachers experienced and were influenced by more culture and people.

Irish dance became and still is an integral part of Irish culture, especially for those who were Irish nationalists and those who participated in nationalist movements. The 20th century brought the commercialization of Irish dance, introducing competitive styles and concepts.

Some types of Irish Dance include:

  • Irish Step Dance; this type of dance became popular around 1994. Irish step dance is characterized by quick foot movements and rigid upper body. There are several types of Irish step dance but most use similar technical elements that involve performing on the balls of one’s feet and toes pointing outward as well as complex foot work and rigid torsos and upper bodies. These dances can also be performed in groups of two or more.
  • Sean-nós is unique and known for footwork that can be described as low to the ground as well as improvised movement, free arm movement and steps that are known to be “battering”. This type of dance, compared to other Irish dances, follows the beat and rhythm of music more closely.

Spontaneity is the key to this dance, with less focus on practiced and taught choreography.

Because of this, groups tend to dance one at a time and play off each other’s energy.

  • Ceili Dance is a social and competitive dance that is performed by groups small and large alike. This dance is more traditional in nature and demonstrates some of the most traditional elements and influence of Irish dance. It is a structured form of dance.
  • Set Dance is a social dance that is practiced in groups and involves complex and intricate footwork.

Unsurprisingly, Irish dance often accompanies Irish music. Interestingly, these dances became popular as dancers showed off the movements on top of barrels, bars, tables and other impromptu and make shift stages which is part of the reason that the dances involve such a rigid torso as these dancers tried to balance and concentrate their movements. As venues became more stages, and less bar top, the dances evolved and started to include the upper body more and more.

Tap Dance

Tap dance is a unique type of dance that is characterized and identified by the sounds of the shoes striking the floor as the performer/dancer moves and creates percussion sounds. The metal on the bottom of tap shoes is what makes this sound.

The major types of tap dance include:

  • Flamenco
  • Jazz tap; this is a type of tap that lines up directly with the music and the rhythm
  • Classical tap; this is a type of dance that marries the classical music with foot drumming and tapping.
  • Broadway tap; this tap is of English influence and focuses more on formations and group dynamic than complex rhythms and moves.
  • Post modern tap; this type of tap is new and hard to define as it tends to not fit into one box with one set of characteristics.

There are different shoes for the different types of tap mentioned above. For example, a softer shoe does not make as much sound whereas other shoes are intended and designed to make a louder, more aggressive noise for impact.

There are classes for dancers of all ages and levels who want to learn how to tap dance and it requires a separate set of skills and technique unique to this style of dance.

Dance Through the Decades

Dance has been a popular form of expression since records began, with different cultures adopting their own particular movements, often telling a story. The earliest mention of dance comes from Indian and Egyptian paintings. Throughout the centuries, dance has evolved in many ways, some of them controversial at first, but always entertaining. It can be performed as a solo individual, a duo or as a group.

The 1920s

Following the end of the First World War, people were looking to escape the horrors of that era, and dance played a significant part in finding this escapism. Popular dances of this time included the Charleston, the Foxtrot, the Shimmy, the Tango and the Waltz. Some of these dances require that couples hold each closely, which was considered somewhat scandalous, particularly by older generations.

The 1940s

The rumba was first introduced in this decade and was an instant hit with its seductive Latin tempo. There are two distinctive styles of the rumba, American and European, and it is often featured in international competitions. Swing and jazz also came to the forefront in the 1940s and encompassed the Lindy Hop, also known as the Jitterbug. US servicemen are said to have popularised this style of dance during WWII

The 1950s

Rock ‘n Roll both describes the music and the dance style of the 1950s. The beat of the guitar is akin to that of a blues style rhythm and has accompanying fast dance movements, widely adopted by teenagers. The style of dress was particularly essential and gave rise to the term “teddy boys” who often were involved in gang fights. In cases of injury, they had to rely on old fashioned doctors, as opposed to today’s generation who can find the useful livi app to get medical advice. The hand jive is a popular 1950s dance and was often performed by synchronised groups of youngsters at high school dances.

The 1960s

The 1960s were a period of unrest and rebellion and strangely led to a series of dance crazes with odd names, including the Mashed Potato, the Hully Gully and most famously the Twist. These were usually formed as a line dance, with each individual performing the controlled movements at the same time as the others. The end of this decade saw the rise of flower power, with youngsters dancing as though seemingly in a trance.

The 1980s

This decade heralded the arrival of rap, hip-hop and as made famous by Michael Jackson, moonwalking. This iconic pop star was also responsible for the video of his hit single Thriller, which led to hordes of people emulating zombies and graveyard ghouls. A dance which was often attempted but with less than successful results was that of the Robot.

It remains to be seen as to which dance craze will be seen in the future, but more than likely it will be introduced by the younger generations.

Ballet

Ballet is a type of dance that dates to the Italian Renaissance in the 15th century. The dance quickly spread to France and Russia and then became popular all over the world. This is now one of the most popular forms of dance across the world in terms of those who participate and those who enjoy watching or observing. Since its debut and over time, ballet has evolved and has been influenced by those all over the world. This type of dance has not only drawn a lot of inspiration but has also generated inspiration and influence, having helped create the foundations and technical basis for other types of dance all over the world. The dance is so popular that there are schools dedicated entirely to teaching this form of art at the elementary level and all the way to post graduate levels.

A ballet performance itself is made of a combination of a choreographed set of movements and music. These numbers are performed by those trained in this dance type, and the dancers are referred to often as ballerinas. The music varies but it is often classical pieces. The costumes, stage design and other elements vary immensely depending on the mind behind the piece of art. Traditionally, the outfits have been simple so not to restrict the movement of dancers. This resulted from large, impressive costumes being a hindrance to dancers’ performances.

There are several different types of ballet today, some of which include:

  • Classical ballet; this is one of the most longstanding types of ballet and it stays relatively true to its roots. There are different classic styles in countries such as France, Italy and Russia but the fundamentals remain similar at the core. These ballets pay homage to the rich history and technical elements of ballet.
  • Romantic ballet; this was a movement that derived from classical ballet and focused heavily on the “pointe” work of the dancers. The dancers who mastered and performed this type of ballet were predominantly female who worked to create a feeling of softness and delicateness.
  • Neoclassical ballet; this is a more abstract form of ballet. Whereas other forms of ballet tell stories and follow a plot from start to finish, neoclassical ballet is much more abstract with no plot and often very minimal costumes and stage design, if any. The focus is intended to be on body movement alone.
  • Contemporary ballet; this is another alternative form of the dance. Unlike many and most other forms of this dance, this is a type of ballet often performed and executed barefoot. Technique is key in performing and executing this type of ballet, but otherwise, it does not fit in the box of what one would be used to if they were familiar with more classical types of ballet.