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.

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.

Contemporary Dance

Contemporary dance is a type of dance, a performing art that evolved and came to be in the middle of the twentieth century. Since making its worldwide debut, contemporary dance has become one of the most prominent and popular forms of dance all over the world. There is an especially large following of this type of dance in North America and in Europe. The genre as a whole draws inspiration from almost every other type of dance, including classical, modern and jazz styles. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a type or sub genre of modern or neoclassical ballet.

The technique of contemporary dance requires controlled leg work and a flexible, loose and delicate torso. There is a lot of floor work and falling that requires what dancers know to be a technical skill called fall and recovery. In addition, those who perform and dance this genre are also well versed in acting and being able to embody and present a character and a story to an audience. One of the trickiest elements of this dance, making it one of the most challenging to be trained in, is the lack of consistent rhythm or speed, with different beats, songs, sounds accompanying the routines.

The history of contemporary dance involves the blending of classic ballet and modern dance. The first known or considered contemporary choreographer, one of the pioneers of this beautiful type of dance is Merce Cunningham. He developed his first contemporary routine in 1944 which was considered non-linear in terms of movement and plot. It was compared to the dance form of an abstract painting with expressive movements that spoke loudly and portrayed clear messages.

Interestingly, contemporary dance came to fruition when the pioneers of the genre decided to, against popular opinion and advice, go against and break the strict rules of classical ballet and move towards expressions and passion told in different ways. This genre broke the boundaries and paved the way for several creators and dancers across the world who used the dance for expression but also for important initiatives like sending political, economical and other strong messages.

To get trained in this type of dance, dancers will require formal training but also training in flexibility, sometimes even acting and often, to become the most well-rounded version of themselves, dancers also train in other genres before contemporary.

Salsa and Latin Dance

Latin dance is a broad and relatively all encompassing term that includes a significant number of dances. Typically, Latin dance involves two partners dancing ballroom or folk dances that have roots in Latin America. There are competitions for Latin dancing all over the world that go far beyond Latin America and Spanish speaking countries.

Latin dance comes from three predominant styles of dance including Native American, European as well as African. These romantic and passionate dances date back as far as the fifteenth century and therefore have deep cultural roots. The dances are culturally rich and even now are integral parts of the Latin culture in dance.

There are several types of Latin dance, some of the most popular including:

  • Salsa; This dance originated in the Caribbean, the Salsa is a dance that is incredibly fun to watch and upbeat for dancers and the audience alike. It is one of the most practiced dances in the entire world. There are several sub genres within the world of Salsa that one can explore.
  • Merengue; This dance has roots in the Dominican Republic. There are several easy and basic steps, but the music is always upbeat and fast paced.
  • Bachata; Another dance from the Dominican Republic, this dance is in large contrast to the Merengue and to Salsa as it is a slower paced dance with more sensual moves and a more sensual feel. The body is isolated, and the dance requires strong hip movements.
  • Cha Cha Cha; This is a Cuban dance that looks and largely resembles the mambo. The name demonstrates the sound of shoes while dancing to the upbeat music.