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Dancing as a Hobby - Eleven Popular Dance Styles

Tricia Deed favors the art of belly dance. Dancing to your favorite music is beneficial to your mental, physical, and spiritual being.

Social Dancing

Social dancing is popular with any age group in any private or public function.

Social dancing is popular with any age group in any private or public function.

Dancing as a Hobby

The dance world provides an interesting and pleasurable sport hobby for every age. You may choose to dance as a soloist, as a couple, or as a group. Many people enjoy dancing to their favorite musical movements. Others venture into new world sound to refine their interest in other cultures.

People enjoy dancing because of their love of music. They cannot resist the impulse to move their frame to different rhythms. The rhythms capture the interests of soloists, partners, or groups leading to the overpowering urge to manipulate our body parts duplicating the beats.

There are some who admire and are eager to wear the dance fashions which characterize the musical styles. Dance fashions vary from slipping on a grass-weaved skirt to an elegant ballroom gown. Bare feet, shoe taps, or high heel shoes capture feet fashion enthusiasts.

Dances which incorporate props capture our interest and imagination. Swords, canes, daggers, water pitchers, large straw hats, roller and ice skates, and stilts are a few that tempt us to accent interesting movements. We also discover that using these props is not as easy as it looks.

Health Benefits:

  1. Improve physical, mental, and emotional fitness
  2. Stimulate mental abilities
  3. Relieve physical, mental and emotional stress
  4. It is a cheerful and fun loving musical activity.


Hobby Benefits:

  1. Different styles of dancing
  2. Socializing
  3. Lifestyle changes
  4. Financial rewards
  5. Employment
  6. Competition and Contests
  7. Romance
  8. Travel
  9. Arts and crafts
  10. Costuming and Accessories


Rock and Roll

Rock and Roll was and is very popular. Anyone can dance.

Rock and Roll was and is very popular. Anyone can dance.

1. Rock 'n' Roll

Rock and roll music originates from about the 1940s, advancing into the 1950s. This music became my music during the late 1950s as a teenage adolescent.

This upbeat music met with disapproval from parents. Parents thought it to be the Devil’s music. They disapproved of its savage rhythms and its sexual entendre lyrics.

Teenagers across America supported Elvis Presley, the king of Rock ‘n’ roll. They loved the spirited rhythms, and they preferred dancing to it. Rock and roll music continues to be prevalent because it sets one’s feet and torso to dancing. Formal dance instructions are unnecessary. Individuals created original dance steps and movements. It is free-spirited.

It is still a lively form of dance in America. There are many businesses and nightclubs which offer dance participation. These dance centers offer recorded music, feature vocalists, and bands who love rock.

My generation wore away many rpm albums and watched the Dick Clark television program every day. This show featured vocal artists and musicians in live appearances. The television audience housed teenagers from both local and out-of-state locations. Today’s technology allows listening or viewings to CDs, DVDs, MP3s, iPods, computer, cable, and satellite.

Bill Haley and the Comets introduced the first Rock ‘n’ Roll song entitled “Rock Around the Clock” in 1955.

The Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll is Chuck Berry. His number #1 song “My Ding-a-Ling” in 1972.

King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is Elvis Presley. #1 song “Heartbreak Hotel” in 1956.

Previous music seems tame. What made Rock ‘n’ Roll different was its loudness and rhythms which capture passions and cause your body to move to the beat with all the powerful energy you can muster. It produces a smile on your face, it’s exhilarating, infectious, flashy, colorful pieces bringing out every delinquent behavior a teenager can muster.

The Ballerina

A young ballerina in performance.

A young ballerina in performance.

2. Ballet

Adults are taking this dance as a fitness program. I regard this dance as an intellectual and professional sport. It will take dedication and motivation to accomplish the various levels of achievement. Taking classes as an adult will not prepare you to become a talented or professional ballerina. Hobbyists take classes at recreational centers, gyms, schools of ballet, or personal training. Ballet bars and mirrors are available for home installation.

You cannot train yourself the ballet. This dance requires a trained and certified teacher. To use this dance as personal fitness, I would recommend attending classes and supplement practice at home. Are you in doubt about a specific movement? Do not do it? An instructor is essential to observe movements and revise when required to avert injury.

Ballet is increasing its popularity as an exercise outlet in America.

Physical Benefits:

  1. Burns calories aiding in fat reduction
  2. Tone and build muscle strength
  3. A flatter tummy
  4. Reduce stress
  5. Corrects posture
  6. Tightens skin to reduce cellulite
  7. Weight loss
  8. Grace
  9. Flexible

Mental benefits:

  1. Develop creativity
  2. Gain confidence, endurance, coordination, and flexibility
  3. Refine focusing abilities and better cognitive abilities

Class structure:

  1. Ballet Basics
  2. Beginners
  3. Intermediate
  4. Advanced

People enjoy taking classes in a safe and fun environment. Instructors design classes which are suitable for adult men and women. There are no age restrictions and flexible scheduling is available. Most classes are for 30 minutes. You may perform in a year-end class recital or a particular event.

Modern Dance - Men in Stage Performance

Men take interest in modern dance.

Men take interest in modern dance.

3. Modern Dance

Modern dance is a freestyle art which rebels against the strict restrictions of the ballet. Ruth St. Denis taught Isadora Duncan, otherwise known as the Mother of Modern Dance. Ruth St. Denis owned her school, teaching experimental dance techniques. We consider these two American dancers the first modern dancers to break away from ballet.

Martha Graham focused on muscle techniques of tightening and relaxing, accompanied with primal emotional intensity. Her choreography came from life’s movements. Her style of dancing defined the dancer as making music, not following music. The body creates beauty with intense movements, displaying human experiences with directions from the heart. Not everyone in the audience will like this dance style. Martha Graham did not dance to please the audience. She danced to please herself. This is another rebellious aspect of this dance.

Isadora Duncan focused on developing modern dance, using the body to express natural movements. Her concept of dance includes the soul expressing itself through body movements. The dancer is graceful and feminine, and movements are carefree, mimicking gentle movements of nature. The performer draws energy from the solar plexus. Body-revealing Greek-like costumes of soft, sheer, and flowing fabrics allow dancers to move without costume restrictions. The dancer leads the audience to experience the soul of the performer, not actual dance movements.

Physical movements are free of strict restrictions, and the dancer incorporates raw inner emotion. It is a rebellious dance because it has no rules or restrictions. This dance is a method of self exploration enabling our free spirit. This is one reason for many styles in contemporary dance. It uses all senses when dancing. There are few rules to follow.

You may dance as a soloist, as a duet, or as a troupe.

Benefits:

  1. Build endurance and stamina
  2. Gain balance and stability
  3. Manage weight
  4. Overall muscle conditioning
  5. Helps build bone strength
  6. Cardio workout
  7. Fine tune coordination and flexibility
  8. Aerobic fitness
  9. Expressing emotions
  10. Opens other doors for creativity

This dance is best for the creative individuals who want originality and lack of discipline in their dance style.

The Tango

A couple dancing to a ballroom favorite ...the Tango.l

A couple dancing to a ballroom favorite ...the Tango.l

4. Ballroom Dancing

Ballroom dancing has its name from the fact that they have these dances in large ballrooms. A person’s imagination sees men in tuxedoes and women in long gowns marking time to the piece throughout a fantasy-inspired decor large room in a castle. It is a moment to be Cinderella in the arms of prince charming, floating as an attractive couple across a marbled floor to waltz music originating from a large orchestra. The current ballrooms are in grand hotels and an assortment of contemporary dances are on view.

This dance was the choice entertainment among the aristocratic wealthy classes; today, it is accessible to everyone who enjoys couple dancing. The affluent upper class support activities linked with ballroom dancing, but; the dances originate from folk dancing.

There are three dance categories to embrace; smooth, standard, and Latin. The waltz, foxtrot, tango, and jitter bug are in the smooth and standard categories. Latin includes salsa, rumba, cha-cha and mambo. Country western, jive, plus the swing are recent categories. Ballroom dancing is prevalent worldwide. A person may take American or International styles.

This form of dance is a glamorous sport. American and International audiences watch the performers with excited enthusiasm, they cheer encouraging their favorites to win the competition. People watch these competitive events at conferences or on American television programs. Three popular American programs are World of Dance, Dancing with the Stars, along with You Think You Can Dance.

This dance needs to be studied in a proper classroom setting with a male instructor and a female instructor, as this arrangement is helpful to student couples. There are three basic step designs. These include the box, triple, and rock step. Two other movements to be added include walking forward and stepping backwards. They need weight shifting to move their feet for balance and body placement.

They apply the box step in the waltz and rumba; the polka uses the triple step, and they apply the rock step in the Cha Cha swing, and jitterbug dances. Walking direction, weight shifting, whirling, and turning add interest and variety to the steps.

They teach couples the correct way to hold each other, to pick up cues for upcoming changes and directions. They offer advanced classes to those who want to start contests or events.

Benefits:

  1. Health, confidence, self-esteem, and overcome shyness
  2. Fun
  3. Social interaction
  4. Friendships, romance
  5. Educational value
  6. Improves focus
  7. Sharpens the mind
  8. Generates self-discipline
  9. Teamwork
  10. Achieve perfection
  11. Develops positive outlet
  12. Stress relief
  13. Step mastery
  14. Sport
  15. Beautiful costumes
  16. Travel
  17. Local, nationwide and global competitions

We may do this style of dancing as a hobby interest or as a professional career. There is a large variety of dance style selections, music, and costume choices. Night clubs, many party functions, weddings, and more are outlets for these contemporary choices. Couples enjoy both formal and informal dances using classical or contemporary music.

  • Achieve perfection
  • Develops positive outlet
  • Stress relief
  • Step mastery
  • Sport dancing
  • Beautiful costumes
  • Travel
  • Romance
  • Local, nationwide and global competitions

We may do this style of dancing as a hobby interest or professionally. There is variety in the dance style selections, its music, and costume choices. Night clubs, many party functions, weddings, and more are outlets for these contemporary choices. Couples enjoy both formal and informal dances using classical or contemporary music.

Tap Shoes Worn by Tap Dancers

Taps (metal clips), are attached to the soles of the shoes and they click to the beats of the rhythm by tapping on the floor.

Taps (metal clips), are attached to the soles of the shoes and they click to the beats of the rhythm by tapping on the floor.

5. Tap Dance

Tap dance originated in America. The British combined their folk dance steps with West African music. These two cultures shared, borrowed, or stole from their traditional and new steps. It became known as the jig or juba dancing. Juba refers to the dance performed by the plantation slaves in America. It was common for men to compete, trying to outdo each other. These quick steps and jumps developed into a tap dance. The American minstrel shows were the first public stages for black men to dance their jig. The jig or juba dancing has free moving upper torso actions than the British or Irish jigs with their stiff torsos.

Other countries adding their influences to this style are the Dutch clogging with their wooden shoes, gypsies, sailors traveling around the world copied steps from other ports, Ireland, England, France, and Germany.

You can teach yourself tap dance, but taking lessons from a teacher is best. There are free lessons Online, on videos, or DVDs.

As an adolescent, I recall struggling to tap with my roller skates; I found it problematic. As an adult, I tested taps on my shoes and discovered it to be fun. Tap dancing takes muscle power, endurance, and vitality. It works the entire body burning calories. It’s excellent as a cardiovascular exercise. Active actions of the arms and legs help elevate the heart rate. The continuous active motions of arms, legs, and body enhance flexibility, dexterity, coordination, stamina, strength, and mental clarity and sharpness.

Tapping sounds originate from the screwed in metal discs in the heel and toe of the shoe. Dance suppliers sell these special footwear.

A wood or Marley vinyl make fine floors. We know Marley vinyl as roll-out vinyl. Do not use hardwood floors or concrete. The metal discs will scrape the wood surface. Concrete is a hard surface causing injuries to the spine, ankles, and feet.

Tappers need to take care of their feet wearing fitted shoes to lessen toe discomforts and blisters. The dancer risks fractures and sprains, and muscle discomfort from constant use and jumping.

Other forms of dance that use noise makers on their shoes are country western clogging, flamenco, and Irish Step.

Movies and television have shown many famous hoofers such as the Nicholas Brothers, Fred Astaire, Bill Bojangles. Two decades ago Riverdance entered the entertainment scene exposing the Irish jig and influencing young people to learn this dance or research tap dance.

Break Dancing

Break dancer doing the popular head spin.

Break dancer doing the popular head spin.

6. 'Breakin' B-boys and B-girls Street Dance

American Black musical composers are the originators of The Blues, Jazz, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Funk, and House dances. Social dance enthusiasts design the dance steps along with body actions to these drum patterns.

We consider this dance within the category of social dancing. Anyone with desire and skills can do it. Its members call it ‘Breakin’ and they know its dancers as B-boys and B-girls.

Break Dancing is a tool for communicating with others in the same neighborhood. The spectators who are familiar with the steps will join the group when inspired to do so. Youngsters, young men, and women perform their dances on the pavements of city streets in America as a fun activity. Student dancers with experience and advanced training give shows at public functions, schools, neighborhood and church events.

On a vacation to Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida, I enjoyed watching the production by an African touring troupe. In one presentation, a 70-year-old man performed Break Dancing with a hubcap as a prop. They credit this tribe with the authentic birth of this dance. But, when interviewing several local citizens in Florida, they did not agree. Their response was, “it’s from the Bronx in New York.”

In the beginning Bronx dancing, Break, later B-Boy. (still known as ‘rockin’). This dance was born out of Bronx poverty ghettos. Neighborhood children needed a social outlet and preferred this aggressive style of dancing rather than getting into trouble with the law. The social gatherings introduced new patterns, steps, and music from different cultures. The dancers learned from each other and made modifications in their music.

Break Dancing is a popular street dance among young men and women. City streets become their outdoor dance studios and performance stages. Performers use high energy, acrobatic skills, core strength, flexibility, focusing skills, and mental acuity. It is not for the non-athletic or faint at heart.

They perform movements to the drum beats by jumping, freezing, spinning, posing or breaking. Martial arts and other cultural dance maneuvers infiltrate the dance. The aggressive motions illustrate the dancer to be strong. There is no humiliation or negative criticism from their peers for dancing.

The dancers introduce each dance with a new name, contemporary steps and body movements. As these dances become popular, they will stand on their own integrity or may blend into Traditional African, American Deep South, Harlem, and jazz.

We can watch ‘Breakin’ in tournaments. It is a popular outlet for young athletes for self entertainment or as an opportunity to enter the entertainment business.


A Beautiful Belly Dancer

A beautiful belly dancer wearing a red Turkish costume.

A beautiful belly dancer wearing a red Turkish costume.

7. Belly Dance

Belly dance gets its nickname because they leave the abdominal section of the body exposed. There are more hip movements.

This is a woman’s dance which satisfies her physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. During its early years, it appears to have been used in the birthing process. Today, pregnant women find this dance to be helpful.

Why women are interested in lessons:

  1. Gentle exercise
  2. Control body movements
  3. Home or classroom instructions
  4. Private, class, or video information
  5. No partner is necessary
  6. It’s fun
  7. Wear beautiful costumes
  8. Social opportunities
  9. Performing engagements

Benefits:

  1. Weight loss or body redistribution
  2. Relieve stress
  3. Relieve general physical discomforts
  4. Mentally and emotionally uplifting
  5. Joint relief-excellent for those with arthritis
  6. Weight bearing exercise-gentle and easy for those with osteoporosis
  7. Preparation for childbirth
  8. Boost confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth

This dance is popular among women and girls in many countries. There are instructors teaching individual or group classes in private homes, dance studios, fitness centers, and community or recreational centers. Students who are majoring in a dance degree earn credits for studying Middle Eastern Dancing.

Folk Circle Dance

A circle folk dance show performance.

A circle folk dance show performance.

8. Folk Dance

Many people, including tourists, attend International outdoor festivals and fairs in our state. These events include fun activities, assorted interests, plus educational events. The entertainers, portraying various countries, show and educate audiences of their cultures’ history, customs, traditions and celebrations.

Many nationalities occupy Florida, my residential state,. Businesses and private organizations sponsor and fund both private and public festivals and fairs. Citizens from our communities do dances of Greek, Bavarian, Spanish, Philippine, Chinese, Middle Eastern, African tribal, American Indians, square dancing, Brazilian, Mexican, plus India folk dances.

The three American line dances are Country Western, square dancing, and Buck dancing. Line dancing requires dancers to remain in rows forming lines. They do easy repetitive steps to choreographies. Line dancing is prevalent among Country Western music fans. The American government recognizes square dancing as America’s national folk dance.

They teach International dances in dance schools, colleges, universities, private instruction, online classes, ethic restaurants, plus International clubs.

Benefits:

  1. Community enjoyment
  2. Mood enhancer
  3. Dance with or without a partner
  4. Improve posture, balance, and flexibility
  5. Aerobic exercise
  6. Sharpens the mind
  7. Relieves stress and rigidity
  8. Builds confidence

Folk dancing involves people dancing to an accepted traditional or contemporary piece of music whereby everyone in the community acknowledges that it illustrates their country and its culture.

A Few Examples:

  1. Spain - flamenco
  2. China - Dragon Dance
  3. Ireland - Irish step dance
  4. Hawaii - Hula
  5. Brazil - Samba
  6. Greece - Zorbas
  7. Brazil - Samba

They do these folk dances at all celebrations. A couple of people may start the beginning and others will join at different times as long as the music is playing.

Indian Dancer

An Indian dancer wearing a traditional costume.

An Indian dancer wearing a traditional costume.

9. Dances of India

Indian dancing originates from the ancient world. They divide India into 28 different states and 8 unions. Each state and union has its distinctive and unique dance style. It is a kaleidoscope of choices. Students have a challenging list of classical, folk, and tribal to study and it seems difficult to learn all three styles in a lifetime.

Classical is religious plus spiritual complex maneuvers taking years of dedicated study. Folk dance is easy to grasp; no demand for dance skills. Tribal is best when you live with the local people and understand their primitive roots. They may do these dances as soloists, groups, or a line format.

We know this dance for its precise placement of body parts, its drama plus acting are key points in this artwork. They express emotions with facial expressions plus eye changes. Facial, hand, and finger placements tell the story, reveal emotions, and are descriptions of animals, flowers, objects, or words.

The performer needs to be aware of choreography, body actions, plus feet positioning, The footwork is crucial in this physical art. We must place each foot in its exact position during quiet activities. Dancers do intricate quick, fast, swaying, and hopping gestures. I tried doing the foot pattern of hopping from toe to heel, repeating several times. This is a hard action.

They make their everyday dresses and elaborate costumes with colored fabrics accenting with sparkles, reflective mirrors (Shisha embroidery), and jewels. Simple or elaborate head pieces crown their heads. They wear jewelry on their faces, around necks, arms, wrists, and fingers. They apply glamour makeup onto their faces. Dancers will choose between animal masks or facial paintings and complete their costuming using full body paintings.

Instruments handled by dancers include ankle bells and finger cymbals to follow musical beats.

I watch classes studying these folk dances in our local dance studios. These dances are excellent physical exercises to help any weight loss program. Because the dance is intricate, the individual must control and focus on details and body positioning.


A Flamenco Dancer

A flamenco dancer in performance.

A flamenco dancer in performance.

10 Flamenco and Spanish Dance

We know flamenco dance for its powerful passions, dynamics, and drama. The guitar player supports the dancers as they execute strong artistic movements. The nails on the soles of the shoes and the audience clapping their hands become the percussion instruments to keep the beat for the guitar player, The audience is also the percussion instrument by clapping their hands to the beat. Vocalists in the crowd will sing, encouraging both musicians and dancers.

Flamenco is from the Andalusia region of Spain, representing its Spanish folklore and culture. There are fifty styles of this dance.

The male stands tall with an erect and proud posture. His female partner stands tall with a slight back bend. These dancers pose their arms, hands, and fingers in selected positions. Their feet produce tapping sounds with their flamenco shoes or boots on a wooden floor. Dancers and singers may use wooden castanets to highlight rhythms or dance styles. Tambourines are a popular instrument for dancers. Another stimulus is the word “ole”, a Spanish word to cheer the performers.

The traditional attire for men is a white shirt, black vest, black trousers, as well as a black hat. Men wear boots, women wear strapped shoes. They fasten nails into the heels of the shoes and boots to make tapping noises. Women wear colored dresses fitted at the bodice and waistline opening into a flared multi-ruffled skirt. They add a flower of their choice to their hairstyle.

Improvisational Flamenco is from the Romani gypsies of India. Each generation teaches this free and spontaneous dance style. They wear ordinary clothing; no special costumes. They spirited the dance with strong exaggerated arm, hand and finger movements. Sturdy legs support body movements and bare feet stomp to the rhythms. They accent movements with castanets, clapping hands, or finger snapping. The audience sings while clapping their hands.

Children learn both styles of dance. They often become professional artists as youngsters to increase family income. Both styles require discipline plus years of practice for serious students.

Benefits:

  1. Repair spinal posture
  2. Cardiac workout
  3. Weight loss
  4. Develop confidence
  5. Builds endurance
  6. Improves focusing
  7. Builds mental alertness
  8. Improves dexterity
  9. Build body strength and agility

There are teachers in many communities. Investigate to ensure locating an accomplished instructor. I went to watch a Spanish dancing show and overheard a group of dissatisfied people making negative comments about a teacher that they considered not qualified. These people felt cultural insult. They did not appreciate the teacher identifying a dance with the incorrect name, and inaccurate dance movements to the wrong music selection. There are differences between Flamenco and Spanish dance; they do not mix.

People are altering many dances, but traditions and standards never change. It is conceivable to keep both classical and new styles. Tap and the Irish dance are not similar to this dance. Each of these tapping dances is different and adhere to their individual uniqueness.

11. Hawaiian Dancers

Hawaiian Dance

Hawaii is an island paradise where many travelers have learned the hula dance.

The Hawaiians will dance the hula as long as they live in the islands. Women, young girls, and men study and do this dance. Children study this dance when they can walk. This dance, rather than the printed word, expresses the stories of the Hawaiian people and its culture.

The hula, in its early years, is a religious dance to honor their island gods and goddesses. Female dancers do sensuous movements expressing a variety of stories versus male dancers who display abundant vitality and power. Their movements before the chiefs of their peoples served as an audition platform to become warriors. The movements require physical strength and endurance, which exhaust the performer’s throbbing and burning muscle sensations.

The hula is easy to grasp, which makes it popular among novices and tourists. But to learn and understand the Hawaiian sounds in their songs is a greater challenge than mastering the dance. There are 13 alphabets which create fewer words. The hands, fingers, and facial expressions reveal the stories. The hip sways, keep the rhythm. Musicians chanting along with drumming and vocalists chanting or singing support the dancers.

A hollow coconut tree topped with shark skin is their tall drum. Coconut shells make smaller drums. Time keepers tap hollow gourds with their hands and fingers or pat the instrument on the ground. These musicians will also chant. The dancers use instruments to accent the rhythms and boost interest. The ipu is an empty gourd used for drumming. A double gourd filled with seeds and brightened with feathers produces rattling noises. They use split bamboo sticks to strike against the body, producing light, crisp sounds. They tap lava stones or river rocks in their palms like castanets.

The leaves of the tee leaf plant are the makings of a grass skirt. Today’s dancers use fabrics.

Benefits:

Easy on joints

  1. 6,000 strides in a one hour hula class vs 7200 steps of walking in one hour
  2. Lowers blood pressure
  3. Promotes memory, balance, coordination
  4. Weight loss
  5. Corrects glucose levels
  6. Boosts energy levels
  7. Tones and strengthens legs
  8. Affordable costumes
  9. Social gatherings
  10. provide professional entertainment.

There are traditional performers and modern style hula dancers. The Hawaiians are giving their best to restore their heritage and entertainers mix eye-catching moves, adornments, and musical materials to suggest excitement to the audience and to capture imaginations of new individuals to study this dance.


Dancing?

Dances Around the World

Comments

Tricia Deed on April 29, 2015:

You are correct in noticing that I did not include African dancing. I also did not include Brazilian, Martial Arts Dancing, Tahitian, Zomba, Tai, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and many others. At a later date I will have to include these other forms of dancing. This article talked about those dances which I have noticed to be currently popular in America.

Miebakagh Fiberesima on April 24, 2015:

Thank you good fellow. I appreciate your story much. However, I have to say that many of the dances are western and Eastern inn character. Nowhere is African dance ever mentioned.

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