How Many Dance Styles Are There?

It’s not really often asked, but just how many dance styles are there? In a world of endless possibilities and thus, limitless variations and different ways to dance, the only answer to the question is a lot!

But seriously, how, and why are there so many dance styles?

With the art of dance having existed since humans had learned to move in such a way that has been considered dancing, which is a long, long time ago, our ancestors have created many different dance styles that not only differ in how they are performed but in other aspects as well.

The easiest way to sort dance styles is through the steps, but let’s get a bit more general here. One way is by differentiating what purpose the dances serve, and whether they are a local or widely known dance around the world, ethnic or commonly performed by the general public.

We could divide it into three. We have:

· Ceremonial dance

This kind of dance is often related to sacred dances and is performed during occasions such as birthdays and other life milestones, as a celebration of culture and tradition, or as a religious ritual. Casual examples include the circle dance that is often done during formal parties. Aboriginal culture contributes to many ceremonial dances in Australia, where their dances are coined as corroboree dances.

· Recreational dance

As its name suggests, this kind of dance is free of form and is done just for the fun of it. If taken a little seriously, dances under this category include dancing for good health or education, but in any case, most dances performed in everyday lives and social gatherings fall under recreational dances.

· Artistic dance

Artistic dance has a serious tone to it, and it is definitely the most fixed out of the three. This refers to dances that are performed for a staged performance, hence it is also called theatrical or concert dance, and is often danced to entertain an audience.

It could be argued that certain dance styles such as ballet, tap, jazz, and modern types of dancing could not only be categorized under artistic for it could be enacted in such a way that befits a recreational dance.

And now, we could split it into different genres:

· Traditional

Traditional dances are often confused with ceremonial dances, but not all traditional dances are ceremonial dances. Traditional dance, often referred to as folk dance,

expresses appreciation and celebrates through a dance performance that reflects the lifestyle or ideologies of a certain society, and helps in keeping the tradition alive. Feel free to see a past article about traditional Australian dances!

Examples include:

-Bush Dance (Australia)

-Samba (Brazil)

-Kabuki (Japan)

-Cariñosa (Philippines)

-Fandango (Spain)

· Ballroom

Ballroom dances have their own set of rules depending on the category. Certain countries have their localized rules, thus different kinds of ballroom, which is why there exists International Standard, International Latin, and American style or the American smooth. Whether it is done for recreational purposes, entertainment, or under a competitive setting (dancesport), the ballroom dance style is an umbrella term for these styles of dances:



-Cha Cha



· Ballet

Some say that ballet is the foundation of all dance and that anyone successful in ballet can and will be able to master other kinds of dance. Being the most, if not the most technical dance style, it has its own vocabulary and is known for being a formal dance style that is strict to its fundamentals and discipline, referring to classical ballet in particular. It is a dance style that has a rich history and has a wide influence on most dance genres that we have today, its style untainted, keeping its professional, graceful steps which were originally practiced as a norm among nobles since the 1500s.

· Street

When you hear street dance, you’re probably thinking of hip-hop, and you’re right g, hip-hop is under street dance. This dance style is often related to baggy clothes, a cap, and sudden, boastful movement. Often performed in parties, raves, and nightclubs, this dance style was born from the repressed people of America back in the day, African and Latin American, most notably the youth, as a way to voice out their cry for freedom.



Popping (Boogaloo, sliding, waving)

Electro dance


Robot dance

· Modern

The modern dance style is literally taking an already existing dance style and making it less bound by the predefined rules for performing it. Because of that, then it’s anything but the aforementioned dance styles. According to history, modern was created in response to classical ballet which could be described as constrained, whereas modern aimed to become the opposite. Aesthetically loose and able to voice out and express emotion through motion that is free from the need to be in a certain social standing or a need to abide by the principles in which ballet is formed, that is what modern dance style is.

· Contemporary

Contemporary means something that is of the present. While modern has released dancing from having to conform to a certain way or form of dancing, the invention of contemporary dance was with the goal to create more novel dance styles than what we have now. This is probably the peak of creative freedom and probably encompasses anything that isn’t a style listed above. This dance style still does share some characteristics with ballet and modern, but essentially, this one has no rules anymore. It doesn’t have to tell a story, you could dance just for the sake of dancing. If modern dance refuses the slow tempo of ballroom, contemporary dances are far more unpredictable because of the mixed styles and varying speed and direction.

If comparable to the states of matter, contemporary is definitely gas.

There are far more dance styles that have probably not been covered, most notably social dances, swing accompanied by jazz, and short dance styles formed as fads. And for those of you asking, yes, the popular dance style K-pop is arguably a dance style of its own.

We get curious from time to time as well and ask similar questions but let us ask. Why do you ask?

Are you looking for something new to try out? Is this your first time actually practicing dance for mastery or have you just changed dance styles? We have our fair share of people asking what dance style it is that they should take, to which we would say that just try it out and see which ones they have the most fun doing! Some people like a little challenge, but others usually give up if it’s too hard. There’s nothing wrong with that, but just know that “to each their own”. You could be amazing at a certain dance style and be an average Joe at another.

Dancing, like other art forms, isn’t something that you become good at in a short amount of time. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Practicing hard is one thing, but it also takes a lot of time and effort to find that one dance style that works best for you. While it’s great to be versatile, there’s that one that may take just a while for you to learn, but who knows, it might just be that one!

To conclude, let us once again answer the question: Just how many dance styles are there?

There are a lot of dance styles to choose from, and it could be very overwhelming at first. You may think to yourself that you don’t want to waste time practicing something that’s not meant for you, but you’ll never find out if you don’t try right? And with that kind of thinking, time is wasted anyway with you overthinking instead of dancing!

Here at N2, we offer dance lessons for people regardless of skill level or age, and among the dance styles we offer are jazz, ballet, tap, contemporary, lyrical, and hip hop. Let us know if you have already decided on a specific dance style!