How do you classify various forms of dance?

Answer

While there are many ways to classify dance, including according to the number of people dancing, the tempo of the dance or the ethnic background behind the dance, one of the most useful classifications is the division of dance into either social dance or performance dance. In performance dance, dancers who are usually highly trained dance for the enjoyment of an audience or, sometimes, to be judged competitively. In social dance, people dance for fun, usually in pairs or groups, typically with very little or no training.

In Western cultures, ballet is the basis for almost all performance dance. Ballet was originally developed in France, and its basic steps and positions are used as the foundation for almost every other type of dance performed for an audience, including modern dance, jazz, lyrical and contemporary dance. Other classifications of performance dance done before an audience cover a wide variety of movement and include tap dance, belly dancing and many forms of hip hop dancing.

Social dancing may vary in style from culture to culture, but most peoples in the world do some kind of dancing in social occasions. In Western cultures, one of the primary forms of social dancing is ballroom dancing, which is always performed in pairs. This classification covers traditional dances, such as the waltz, foxtrot and tango, but also ranges more widely to include disco and other electronica dancing and all sorts of swing dancing. The other type of social dancing that is widespread throughout the world is folk dancing. In folk dancing, people may dance in pairs or in large groups. Each ethnicity brings its own version of folk dancing to the party; even dances common in the U.S., such as country line dancing or the Macarena, may be included as types of folk dances.

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