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Dance Classes - The Difference Between the Styles

Updated on August 6, 2012
Charlotte Dance Classes
Charlotte Dance Classes

Dance instruction can be broken down into several different styles: Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary and Tap. Below you will read about the four styles and some of thier influences.

King Louis XIV can be held responsible for Ballet as we know it today. He was the first to create a dance school in the 1600's to study the technique of the now-popular form. Ballet would soon spread through most of Europe and Russia, leading to the development of the major classical techniques which include Vaganova, French, and later the Royal Academy of Dance. Ballet still remains the most popular styles of dance today. All Ballet classes follow a warmup with barre work, movement on center and across the floor exercises. Pointe is an advanced form of Ballet with one main difference, the shoe that is worn. Pointe shoes are different than Ballet shoes because they have a hardened toe, called the box, and a reinforced arch, called the shank which allows a dancer to move on the tops of their toes. Pointe is not introduced fully until a dance student has strong classical technique and body alignment.

Jazz dance, not unlike Ballet in form, focuses on movements containing isolation, strength, rhythm, and large jumps. Jazz dance uses many of the techniques from the other forms of dance allowing room for improvisation and implied looseness of transitional movements. This form of dance is often seen on television shows like So You Think You Can Dance.

The Hip Hop culture of the past 20 years has created the edgy from of dance known simply as Hip-Hop . Dancers move without an actual dance technique to music that follows the Hip Hop or Rap cultures. Hip Hop focuses on improvisational choreography and exploring rhythm through the use of the body. This form of dance is heavily stylized by the individual rather than a syllabus or a structured technique.

Modern dance is comprised of free and organic movement which became popular in America in the early 1900's. Modern dance was founded by an uprising of thoughts that go against the classical restrictions of ballet. Styled considerably less than traditional ballet, modern dance quickly attracted an audience of its own. Modern dance, or Contemporary as it can also be called, builds on the foundation of Ballet and allows dancers to have freedom with the upper body and has a very strong focus on head and tail connectivity.

Tap uses both traditional and modern musical techniques in expressing rhythm. The sound is made by shoes with a metal piece on the toe and heal of the shoe. As students advance, they learn harder combinations as well as the importance of improvisation within the structure of the movements they are dancing. "Tapping" connects back to early Americana found in many early films. Tap dance like Modern dance were both created in America and rely on improvisation to fill the gaps.

Dance is a form of sign language that can be “spoken” in many different ways, no way being right or wrong. As dance continues to morph and evolve in the techniques used, dancers are becoming more athletic and the limitations of the human body have yet to be seen.


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