- 01. Kabuki
- 02. Modern Dance
- 03. IsiPantsula
- 04. Salsa
- 05. Waltz
- 06. Corroboree
Why are there many different types of dances? Have you ever wondered about this? Is it because people just liked to move differently or is there a reason behind the different types of dance existing all around the world.
Dance has existed for a long time and historical records proving this are found in many countries like India and Egypt. It has developed with time and reflects culture and tradition.
It has many physical and mental benefits. Some of the advantages of dancing include, improvement of cardiovascular health, reduces the risk of osteoporosis, strengthens balance and coordination, boosts your mood, builds confidence, helps you meet new people and many more.
Almost every country has their own dance styles that reflects their culture such as Malaysia which has many cultural dances like Joget, Magunatip, Zapin, Mak Yong and many more that reflects its ethnic diversity.
In this article, we will explore six types of unique dance forms from various countries around the world.
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Kabuki is a traditional Japanese performance art which incorporates music, dance and mime is further enhanced with elaborate costumes and outstanding makeup. Captivating features like live music from traditional instruments, lighting effects, props, unique stage set and a runway that stretches to the audience, Kabuki never fails to impress its audience.
This unique dance form was created in the 17th century by a former priestess, Izumo no Okuni who turned into dancing. It was initially performed only by women and commonly performed in red light areas. This made it associated with prostitution as the performers often offered their services.
Therefore, in 1629, women were banned from performing Kabuki. This led to male performers eventually taking over the female roles. This change has remained till today where Kabuki is performed by all male cast including the female roles. The structure of performance was formalised and recurring characters established during the 18th century which was known as the golden age for Kabuki.
Kabuki has come a long way since then. It was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008. It is famous across the globe and not only attracts tourists to Japan but it is also performed internationally.
Modern dance began when dancers were looking to break out of the structured and rigid rules of the classical dances such as ballet. It is now a well recognised art form that stands on it own.
This form of dance allows both choreographers and dancers to have the freedom to interpret the music and allow it to guide their movements. It rejects conventions and focusses on emotional and physical expressions of dancers.
Some of the well known pioneers of modern dance are Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham and Ted Shawn. Modern dance has evolved with time where at the beginning it was focussing on not being as rigid or to follow a set of postures or technical positions. However, it always had themed choreographic sequences, and projected a message.
The modern dance of today has seen changes where it may or may not be interpretive and more on acrobatic and aerial movements in groups and with partners. Some of the basic modern dance movements are flat back, stage leap, stag turn and leg swings.
This dance style came about in the 1950’s in South Africa as a response to the forced removals of people in Sophiatown to Soweto by the Apartheid government.
When the forced removals occurred, people felt that they were losing their identity. They used Pantsula to fight back and tell their stories. It became a means of expression through dance, clothes and language.
In the early days, Pantsula mainly represented troubled youths who revealed their talents through dancing mainly on the township streets. The dance was enhanced with flashy clothes and creative choreography. Nowadays, the dance is slowly moving out of townships and performed in the commercial arena.
This dance style has been influenced by quick stepping, tap dancing, jive, gumboot, African tribal dance and everyday gestures like the rolling of dice. The dancers move to Kwaito house music together with whistling element.
Isipantula is not just a dance but its a culture that gave people a voice before the existence of the internet and social media. It may have evolved with the passing of time but has remained strong despite emergence of new dance styles like hip hop.
During the late 19th and early 20th century, Salsa, a fun and energetic dance popped up in eastern Cuba. It gained popularity and slowly spread to Latin America and later United States.
Salsa is heavily influenced by the Afro-Cuban elements such as Son, Cha Cha Cha & Mambo. As people moved to new locations and adapted to new cultures and environment, Salsa evolved into new styles. Some of the popular Salsa dance styles today are Colombian, Cuban, New York and Los Angeles.
Salsa dance is quite flexible where dancers are able to decide if they want to choreograph or adopt a free style approach. However there a few general characteristics that serve as a guide to the dancers.
Dancers will typically take 3 steps within each four-beat measure of the song. They may make a move like kick, turn or tap their feet on one of the four beats. The hip movement is emphasised in this dance by having fairly still upper body during performance.
Salsa dance is famous till today and is widely seen in clubs, events and festivals. The modern day Salsa dancers incorporate many captivating movements like lifts and spins from other dance styles.
Waltz, one of the most popular ballroom dance originated from Austria and Germany. This dance was initially famous among peasants before moving to the upper class society. An interesting fact about Waltz is that it was considered immoral and scandalous in its early days due to the close proximity of the dancers.
However, this came to pass with time and gained prominence thanks to the music creations of Johann Strauss and Franz Lanner.
There were different types of Waltz over the years, however currently in the modern ballroom, there are two types which are the quicker version known as the Vienesse Waltz and the slower version simply known as Waltz.
Waltz is danced with a partner to three count music. There is a leader and follower dynamics and 1st step for the Leader is moving forward with the left while the follower is moving backwards with the right. This allows for synergy between their movements and avoid stepping on each other.
This traditional dance which originates from the Aboriginals in Australia where people interact with the dreaming through music, dance, artistic expression and costume.
One of the main objective of this dance is for the dancers to get into a trance-like state where the spirit leaves the body and visits the “sky-world” where all life originates and returns to after death.
It is important to keep in touch with this other world which is often referred to as dreaming or dream time. The events from the dreaming are then re-enacted through the dance. The dance which served as an initiation ceremony or celebration at times was also used to pass down stories from generations to generations.
The dancing is usually accompanied by singing by the Elders along with music and instruments such as didgeridoo and clapping sticks. The performers and audience are covered in face and body paint which reflects the character they demonstrate or link to their family.
Outsiders are allowed to watch selected Corroboree dance. The others are reserved for their own communities. Many Aboriginal communities still participate in Corroboree and continue the traditions of their ancestors. Throughout the late 20th century, Aboriginal dance has also been incorporated into modern and contemporary forms of Australian dance and performances.
If you have an interest to learn how to dance, it can be any type of dance from Salsa to K-Pop, there are many tips and resources available to assist you in your venture. If you are looking for suggestions on where to learn dancing, check out this article: Malaysia.
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