Image of two smiling children at a Ballet Corner

When it comes to finding the style of dance that is right for you, there are a lot of things to consider. How do you like to move? What kinds of music inspire you? If you’ve watched any live dance performances before, which one did you find particularly appealing? What are your goals as a dancer?

All of these things can be important to weigh when making the decision about what type of dance might be right for you, and here at Mercury Academy of Dance in Centennial, we encourage you to try a few different things to see how you really feel about them. 

Read today’s blog about the various forms of dance offered at our Centennial dance academy, their history, and who they might be a good fit for, or visit us online and register to get started with a class of your choosing. Please make sure to check our prerequisites before signing up for a new class for you or your child.

Ballet

Ballet is a classical dance form that has its origins in the time of the Italian Renaissance and found its way into the French courts when Catherine de Medici introduced it to the court of King Henry II of France. Ballet blossomed in France before spreading to the rest of Europe and Russia, and that is why the vocabulary of ballet is all but exclusively based on the French language.

Ballet is built around structure, discipline, strength, and the seamless transition between a long series of individual steps, movements, positions, and jumps. While many people tend to think of ballet as a style of dance that is slow, graceful, and beautiful, ballet can also be powerful, jarring, and full of emotional expression, as is seen in the various performance pieces of Firebird, The Nutcracker, and Spartacus.

If you are someone who enjoys structure, hierarchy, and rules, then ballet is probably a fantastic choice for you. Likewise, ballet offers a strong foundation for many other styles of dance and is widely regarded as an important element in any dancer’s multi-style repertoire. Ballet companies number among the most numerous types of performance dance troupes worldwide, so if you are considering a career in dance, ballet also makes an excellent choice.

Tap

Tap dancing is an interesting confluence of various styles of traditional dance that made their way to the Americas throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and much like the immigrant experience in the industrial United States, it resulted in a melting pot of styles that became uniquely American.

Tap has its roots in Irish step dancing, Dutch and British clogging, and various forms of African dance that place an emphasis on foot placement, stomping, and rhythmic music. William Henry Lane is widely credited with “inventing” tap dancing in the mid-1850s, but at the time it would have been known as “Juba Dancing.”

Tap primarily found its audience in Vaudeville shows and variety acts, but like slapstick comedy and other live performance routines of the late 1800s and early 1900s, quickly assimilated into a popular form of performance art that was highlighted in movies through the 1940s and 50s, including showstoppers like Shirly Temple, Singing In The Rain, and Swing Time.

If you love energy, fast movements, explosively quick rhythm, and the feel of stamping your feet, then tap dancing is right up your alley. Tap dance is also a fantastic discipline for those interested in performance art in musical theater. 

Another group of people that benefit greatly from dance are young musicians who are struggling to achieve an innate sense of rhythm and don’t find a metronome helpful. The kinesthesis of tap allows for a full-body experience that connects mind and physical form into a single rhythm-making machine.

Jazz

Just like the form of music that shares the same name, jazz dance evolved out of the multitude of African dance traditions that were kept alive throughout slavery and into the post Civil War era where it became popular performance style, usually performed by black dancers dancing to jazz, ragtime, and eventually would give birth to bee-bop dance, the Charleston, and swing dancing.

Jazz and tap grew together from the same primary community and were performed to the same kind of rhythmic and dynamic music for much of their early, formal existence. So, when reading about jazz dancing in the late 1800s and early 1900s, one has to consider that both of the forms we recognize today might actually be getting referenced.

While tap continued to carve out a distinct niche for itself, jazz dance, much like jazz music, thrived without the confines of a strict definition. As such, “jazz companies” and the official teaching of jazz as a style didn’t become common until the 1940s and 50s. It was during this time that jazz found its home in musical theater, and iconic examples of performance jazz are readily visible in Broadway shows such as Cabaret, Chicago, and Damn Yankees.

Jazz is a form of dance, that like all others, builds everything around a strong core, a strong sense of balance, but unlike many other forms of dance, relies heavily on complicated jumps, turns, and landings as standard fare in performance pieces. Like ballet, jazz is widely regarded as a core discipline for any serious dancer.

If you love to express yourself through a wide range of music, enjoy jumping around, and like to “break the rules” from time to time, then you have the jazz spirit in you.A Studio For All Ages

Hip Hop

When compared with many other forms of dance, hip hop has a relatively short history, but like tap, it is a uniquely American creation that has since swept the globe and become one of the most iconic and varied styles of performance art, especially within the rap, hip hop, and pop music concert circuit.

Hip hop is a style of dance that emerged at the same time that the hip hop music movement was budding in the disillusioned black minority communities of New York, Chicago, and Baltimore. With few economic opportunities available to young black men, and little space inside of cramped housing projects in major urban areas, black teenagers found respite and self-expression, both as art and as a form of political voice, with the advent of the portable stereo, or boombox. With a boombox and a plethora of cardboard laying around in alleyways and on street corners, hip hop and breakdancing were born.

This musical and dance movement continued to evolve into the early hip hop of the 80s and rap of the 90s, and with came droves of fascinated, also disillusioned (although for very different reasons) middle-class white kids. It was at this point that hip hop music and dance officially became mainstream arts, although they have both maintained their out of the box, unpredictable, and deeply creative and personalized forms.

Hip hop dance involves break dancing, krumping, “traditional” hip hop movements, and locking and popping. The variance between styles is incredible, but most of them rely on power moves, feats or balance and strength, and one-on-one dance competitions.

Unlike many other forms of dance, hip hop styles hold the individual creator/dancer in very high regard and serious dancers are always striving to “invent” new moves or develop their own personal brand of a style.

If you love to create, refuse to be bound by other people’s rules and ideas, and dream of being known for your own contributions, then hip hop dance might be where you belong. Furthermore, if you enjoy popular dance trends and videos on tik-tok, this might also be your thing.

Modern

Modern dance is widely seen as an utter rejection of the rigidity of classical ballet. Although many people would agree that ballet was the foundation of modern and postmodern dance (sometimes these are referred to as contemporary dance to avoid getting into the murky waters of the various eras of modern dance). However, modern dancers rejected the structure, rules, and even the style of accepted dress and footwear that was the status-quo in ballet worldwide.

Instead, modern dance opted for more freedom, more flowing movements, and more interaction with other dancers and props to communicate complex ideas, challenge social norms, and provide a place for people who were just as interested in self-expression through dance as they were with the dance itself.

Isadora Duncan is widely heralded as the mother of the modern dance movement. Her use of free-flowing dress, bare-footed dance, and deep facial expression while performing is often likened to a Greek player or stage performer.

As time went by, distinct movements emerged within the modern dance world — some that favored structure, and some that even other modern dancers have struggled to appreciate due to their complete emphasis on whimsy and improv.

Some of the iconic modern dancers, whose styles make up the core of what is taught today include Paul Taylor, Eric Hawkins, and Alwin Nikolais.

If you love to close your eyes and move around the room as you feel inspired in the moment, then modern dance may speak to you. If you have tried ballet and find it too constricting, but enjoy the sweeping movements and stage movement that can be present, then modern may also be a good choice.

Poms

Pom dance is a form of group competitive dancing that always makes use of pom-poms. While other kinds of dance squads may use pom-poms from time to time, pom dance consistently utilizes them throughout their routines.

Pom dance evolved from a variety of popular American dance styles, including the synchronized cheer teams of the middle century, the jazz dance competition teams of the 1980s, and the more risque and aggressive one-on-one competitive styles that emerged from the American hip-hop movement.

Today, Pom dancing enjoys a fervent following and lively competition circuit at the state, regional, and national levels, and has even inspired a number of Hollywood films that have done well with younger audiences across multiple decades. 

If you think that cheerleading, high school or college dance teams, or professional competition dancing is something that you are interested in, then pom dance might be right for you. Pom dance is also a place that typically provides a very strong support system and sense of belonging — something that can be lacking in forms of dance like classical ballet where a handful of principal dancers are selected to shine while the corp dancers remain in the background.

Lyrical Dance

Lyrical dance can easily be confused with modern dance, and there are even those who might argue that they are the same. However, many dancers tend to agree that at best, it is a pseudogene of modern dance. 

Where modern dance is more free form and whimsical, lyrical dance ties itself closely to the performance music it accompanies, often acting out and interpreting lyrics through powerful, sharp, and dynamic movements that are used to emphasize raw emotions and powerful ideas. Lyrical dance can be considered a relative newcomer to the dance scene in the big scheme of things but with shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” giving it a tremendous amount of successful exposure, it is certainly here to stay.

If you are someone who loves poetry and powerful lyrics and enjoys being swept away by strong emotional visuals, then chances are quite good that you’ll enjoy lyrical dance.

Register Today To Start Exploring With Mercury Academy of Dance In Centennial

At the end of the day, we find that most dancers fall in love with multiple forms and styles of dance and ultimately find their own dance “voice” through some hybrid combination of these forms. In general, you can rely on one form of dance helping you to understand and execute another even better, and vice versa. As such, we always encourage our dancers at the Mercury Academy of Dance to be careful not to limit themselves too much.

If you’re ready to discover what kinds of dance are right for you, then visit us online today and register for one of our classes, or reach out via our online contact form and let us know what questions you still have.