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Types of Dance

Dance is a cultural phenomenon that has been with humanity for centuries, so it is natural that it has a whole range of historical and contemporary varieties. It is impossible to make the classification absolutely logical because it does not belong to precise sciences, yet most generally it is possible to classify dance into the following basic types: folk dance, ballet and contemporary dance, each of which has several subcategories.

Folk dance is probably the most ancient category of dance, which emerged with emergence of humankind. At first, when tribal lifestyle and outlook dominated, dances were mostly of ritual nature. They served to communicate with gods, spirits, and forces of nature as part of shamanic or religious tradition. In the same way, folk dances were part of ceremonies that marked important milestones in human life such as weddings, religious holidays, birthdays, etc. This is why folk dances can be classified into several subtypes such as wedding dance, ritual dance, war dance, courtship dance, etc. Later on, when civilization evolved into having social culture, dances also became primarily a social activity. Thus, folk dances became primarily ceremonial dances and included such dances as Polonez, Chech Polka, English country dance, etc, depending on the area where they were used.

Ballet is the second major category of dance, which originated from folk dance in the course of cultural evolution. The major difference is that ballet is a product of art, that is of conscious creative effort of people, and has aesthetic element at its core. In other words, not only the technique of dance is different for ballet but also the purpose. Ballet is classified into classical, neo-classical and contemporary ballet dance. All the three types are based on classical ballet because it is a standard set of conventions, yet the extent to which deviations are allowed is different. Contemporary ballet is most free and flexible in terms of using standard and non-standard techniques, settings, music and plot. Neo-classical ballet is close to classical one but it is less rigid about using conventional techniques. More freedom is allowed such as tempo, spacing, etc. Neoclassical ballet originated in 1920s and is still a reasonable option for those who prefer classical background combined with contemporary ideas.

Finally, modern dance is the largest category of dance, which includes dances, which mostly emerged over the last century or last decades. These kinds of dances are often related to certain subcultures, due to which they appeared before they became mainstream. Thus, for instance, this category includes hip hop dance or R'n'B dance, which are apparently product of hip hop culture. Originally, they were danced by representatives of a particular subculture as part of their identity expression. Yet, in the course of the time such dances merge with mainstream culture and are danced as social and artistic activity regardless of cultural belonging. Other contemporary dances include juzz funk, contemporary dance, salsa, swing, rock-n-roll, flamenco, tap dance, etc.

In conclusion, it should be noted that nowadays fusion is a characteristic feature of art, and dance is not an exception. Thus, combined elements of dance styles are often used, which unite or cross several categories.

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