The Art of Dance

A brief overview of the dance world.

Whether you view it as a sport or an art, dance is a worldwide phenomenon that has been passed down for generations. It is something that many cultures hold dear, and is an important part of daily life to a vast amount of people. Dance is ever-changing, and takes the form of many different styles, and while it has a deep and rich history, I will be doing a brief overview of its origins and what it is like today. 

According to an article from, dance is said to have originated in either India at 9000 years old, or 5000-year-old Egypt. The site also indicates that dance was an important part of ancient Greek and Chinese cultures, as well as the European Renaissance. In these cultures and time periods, dance was a part of various religious ceremonies and festivals, such as the one celebrating the Greek God of wine, Dionysus. One of the most popular styles of dance is ballet, which the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre described as originating in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century. Ballet is often referred to as the foundation of all dance, primarily because of its history and focus on technique. 

There are many more styles of dance than just ballet. Everyone has different definitions of them depending on who you ask, but below are summaries of how I would describe them. 

Lyrical: A style that combines elements of ballet and jazz, and focuses heavily on the lyrics of the selected song. It is often one of the more emotional dance types. 

Contemporary: A type of dance that is known to “break the rules of dance,” and incorporates movements that don’t necessarily follow the structure and rules of ballet. Like lyrical, it can be full of emotion, or possess none whatsoever.

Hip-Hop: A dance often set to rap or hip-hop songs and is characterized by street dance movements. It is also rapidly growing in popularity throughout the world. 

Tap: Tap has been around for quite a while, and focuses primarily on the sounds or “taps” made by dancers with special metal-bottomed shoes that make a noise when they come in contact with the floor. 

Jazz: A type of dance that includes both sharp and smooth movements. Most people typically think of jazz as a fast style of dance, but it can also be slow, with each movement having intention. 

Musical Theater: Musical theater is a type of dance that appears on Broadway but, is also part of many dance studios around the world. Dances are set to music from musicals, and these dances are very similar to the typical jazz routine. 

Acro: A style that combines acrobatic tricks with dancing. 

Ballroom: Ballroom dance is kind of like an umbrella term for a lot of dances. This includes things like the jive, the waltz, tango, salsa, and samba. Those who are fans of Dancing with the Stars would be likely to recognize these dances. 

Many of the dances listed above are competed at competitions all over the world. In the United States in particular, competitive dance is a common activity, which can be found in both a school and studio setting. At these events, dancers compete to earn an adjudication score (a score based off of a point system), and are awarded different adjudications such as silver, gold, platinum, and so on. 

Above all, the most important thing to know about dance is that it is something that breaks down barriers and brings people together. Dance is a beautiful form of self-expression and a celebration of art.