5 Types of Dance Styles to Try When Starting Your Dancing Journey
Updated: Apr 4
When first getting into dance, there are so many options to choose from. There is salsa, ballet, hip hop, jazz, modern, contemporary and the list can go on and on. It can be overwhelming; and with so many styles to choose from and little knowledge on which one sparks your interest it can be daunting and hard to choose. With so many options to choose from, you not only want to find the best style of dance that fits you; but you may also want to know what style you’re dancing. With this in mind, having a little background knowledge of the dance style is a great start in picking the best type of dance for you! Here are 5 types of dance you should try.
1. Hop hop
Hip hop is a great way to get the hang of dancing when you are first starting out. Notably known as a combination of MCing (rapping), DJing, Graffiti, and breaking (also referred to as break-dancing, b-boying or rocking), Hip Hop mixes in an affluent amount of American and Latino cultures. Founded in the 1960’, the style has since dominated and swept across the streets of New York, and onto other parts of America and now the world. Hip Hop is primarily seen through music and in retrospect recording artists’ music videos; with classic performers such as rappers Tupac Shakur, Eminem, and Dr. Dre, Hip Hop music created a culture that intertwined music and dance through performance. When listening to music, dancing can come naturally to you; and if you are listening to Hip Hop music you may already be busting out some classic moves in your living room or bedroom! Hip Hop is a fun way to be creative and expressive through music and movement, which can also substitute as a work good workout. With benefits such as boosting your confidence, muscality, and coordination; the dance style is a great start due to its versatile moves and is a great introduction to body movement and and isolations. If you are looking to join a class that is a beginner level, I highly suggest you try Hip Hop. If you want to jam out to a song you absolutely love in your room, or you want to show off your amazing new hip hop skills at the next party, hip hop is a great start to your dancing journey.
Although daunting at first, salsa is actually a great way to start dancing. Originating from Eastern Cuba in the 1920’s. Salsa references a hybrid of Caribbean music such as mambo, son, Danzón, rumba, bomba, and plena; while synchronizing Afro-Cuban and Spanish music elements. Salsa was then brought to New York and skyrocketed in the 1970’s within the studios and streets. The movement(s) can be fast or slow, you can dance alone or with a partner. Because salsa mainly focuses on the lower half of the body (legs and feet) It’s a great way to start to understand foot movement and to get comfortable moving. Especially when first starting out in dance, salsa is an excellent way of focusing on isolations of the feet; you can start slow and work your way up. Just like John Clark from Shall We Dance (yes with JLO and Richard Gere), he was a beginner who learned to dance through salsa and met some amazing friends while doing so! Even if you are just starting out or a full blown pro, salsa can introduce you to body language, and movements.
Probably one of the most expressive forms of dance, contemporary allows you to create a story through cultivating forms of movement. Contemporary can be understood as an amalgamation of influences; those most notably referenced to modern and ballet. The story goes that a number of dancers and choreographers broke free from the traditional styles of ballet and performance and wanted to be taken more seriously as artists rather than entertainers. In 1891, contemporary dance pioneer Loie Fuller started experimenting with the flow of movement of fabrics and the human body which snowballed into improvisation of techniques and movement. With that in mind, contemporary has a wide range of expression; it allows you to connect with your body you may not have known how to before. Now widely popular with American and European dancers, contemporary is a way to express yourself without limits. Through intricate forms of movement and expression contemporary is a great way to start learning different body movements, isolations, and control over your muscles. If you are looking to break from traditional approaches to dancing and want to be able to express emotions through creative exposure, contemporary would be a great style. Contemporary has no mistakes; if you create, you are creating through emotion and movement, this dance style is a perfect way to start your dancing journey if you are not looking for structure and just want to move.
Ballet can be one of the most difficult dance forms, yet one of the most rewarding. When typically watching ballet, you see how easy the dancers make it look, however, ballet is one of the most technically challenging forms of dance. Classical Ballet is one of the oldest forms of dance originating back in Italian Renaissance courts in the 15th and 16 century; with the italian word “ballare” translating as “to dance”, ballet became a household staple of entertainment notably in Italy and then later on to Russia. With a reputation of being one of the most famous styles of dance, ballet has the ability to challenge one’s body, mind and movement. As a fundamental form other dance styles, ballet is a great way to get started in your dancing journey. You learn more about your body, activate muscles you didn’t think you may have had, you improve your flexibility as well as the ability to comprehend music and time signatures. If you are up for the challenge, would like to improve your body movement, and to start your dancing through a technical lens ballet would be the perfect fit.
Like ballet, stepping is a challenging dance style. Rooted in the motion of body percussion, it utilizes the use of one’s body with intricate sounds and rhythm with the use of your hands, voice and feet. Stepping draws attention from stage routines and was historically performed by black fraternities and sororities in the United States. Stepping is a great way to introduce yourself to certain body movements you may not be familiar with. While stepping you are literally creating music with your own body while dancing. In addition to this, stepping offers you the increase of muscality, flexibility, as well as confidence. If you are interested in the historical and cultural significance or if you are just interested in creating dance and music through body movement, stepping would be a great start. STU Arts is a great source to start your stepping journey, with classes and workshops made specifically for this art, it allows dancers to learn body percussion.
At the heart of the matter, dance is a form of movement that allows you to express, feel and connect with yourself, your community, and music. Different styles of dance allows you to explore beyond the scope of one form of expression and opens you up to different artistry. If you are interested in starting your dancing journey either after watching Shall We Dance with Richard Gere and JLO, or you’ve been wanting to start dancing and you just didn’t know where to start, these 5 types of dances would have helped you narrow it down. If you are interested in Stepping or Hip Hop, the n STU Arts is the place for you. Be sure to check out or Everybody Can Dance Classes here, and our Stepping workshops here. See you out there
Derrick P. Alridge, James B Stewart, “Introduction: Hip Hop in History: Past, Present, and Future” (Journal of African History, 2005) 90:3, 190-195. Accessed from: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1086/JAAHv90n3p190
Juliet McMains, “Spinning Mambo into Salsa: Caribbean Dance In Global Commerce” (Oxford University Press, 2015) 0.18. Accessed from: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=4pmeBwAAQBAJ&pg=PR5&source=gbs_selected_pages&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f=false
Michelle Thompson, Frank Shott “The History of Modern Dance” (Ballet Austin, 2019) Accessed from: https://educationcloset.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Modern.pdf
Gennadi Nedvigin, “A Brief History of Ballet” (Atlanta Ballet, 2019) Accessed from: https://www.atlantaballet.com/resources/brief-history-of-ballet