The Many Faces of Dance

Dance is an art form that generally refers to the rhythmic movement of the body to music. It is the language of the soul. Dance is also a form of non-verbal communication between humans. Although it is difficult to trace the exact origin of dance yet we can say that it has always played an integral part in ceremonies, rituals and other forms of entertainment, since time immemorial.

Dance has several categories such as, solo dance, partner dance and group dance.
Choreography is the art of creating dances by designing movements and the person who creates the dance is a choreographer.

There are many types of dance forms. Each country has its own integral dance form. India has a number of dance styles based on each region and since this is a vast country, it has something new to offer. Ballet is the most methodical of all the dance styles. It first originated in the Italian Renaissance and was further developed in France, Russia and England as a concert dance form. The word ‘ballet’ traces back to the Latin ‘Ballare’ which means ‘to dance’.

Jazz refers to a dance style that originated from an African American vernacular dance choreographed to beats. During the 1950’s, modern jazz emerged with its roots in the Caribbean traditional dance. Jazz has influenced many dance styles and in turn has been influenced by styles such as the Ballet, Hip Hop, Acro and Contemporary. Jazz in itself has many styles such as street jazz and contemporary.

Tap dance is an exciting dance form that is characterized by a tapping sound created by the special shoes that the dancers wear. These shoes have metal plates attached to the heel and the ball of the shoe that creates the sound when it is tapped against a hard wooden floor or surface. Tap dance has many influences such as, African Juba dance, English clogging, Irish step dancing, stomp dancing and Spanish Flamenco.

Hip hop, a very energetic dance is usually danced along with hip hop music and has over the years evolved as part of the hip hop culture. Hip hop is generally recognized by terms such as, locking, popping, breaking, krumping. Hip hop is a freestyle dance and improvisation and personal interpretation is essential to it. Each of the styles has a different place of origin. Hip hop has had a strong impact in France and South Korea.  Notably hip hop dancers can be seen on the streets of the western countries.

Flamenco is a very expressive form of dance which is considered a part of the Spanish culture although it is native to only one region, Andalusia. Flamenco is depicted as the music of the gypsies but it has its roots in mainstream Andalusian society.  Flamenco dance is known for its sweeping and cutting arm movements, hand clapping and rhythmic feet stomping. The dancers are known as bailaores and bailaoras. The Flamenco dancers usually wait for the music and emotion to build up and then they start a very passionate and serious dance.

Latin dance is a very sensual, partner dance form and has its origins in Latin America, Puerto Rico and Cuba. Latin dance has many styles such as, Rumba, Cha-cha-cha, Salsa, Samba, Jive, Mambo, Danza, Tumba and Paso Doble. Latin dance is a breathtaking and fast paced couple dance. The partners usually stand in a closed tight position and sometimes hold only one hand.

India has a variety of dance forms. Indian classical dance are of  eight types. They are:
Bharatanatyam- Tamil Nadu
Kathak – North Indian states
Kathakali- Kerala
Odissi- Orissa
Kuchipudi-Andhra Pradesh
Manipuri- Manipur
Mohiniyattam- Kerala
Sattriya- Assam
Apart from these there are also other dances such as Bhangra (Punjab), folk dances such as Chhau (Bihar), Bihu (Assam) and Brita (West Bengal).

Dance is a very strong medium when it comes to expressing the feelings and emotions of the human heart and mind. It has the ability to spread many messages among  people and it has the power to bring people together as well. It is a very queer art form, it can say so much without saying a word. And the best thing of all is that it is for everyone to learn and enjoy. A person does not need to be a pro to be able to dance; the only thing that is required is genuine love for this art form. If a person dances from the heart the audience is bound to appreciate.

Madhurima Ganguly

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