Top 5 American Origin dance forms

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American Dance Forms

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I am sure most of you will agree with me if I say Dance is the most aesthetic medium of communication.

It’s a performing art that comprise of sequences of eloquent human movements conveying different expressions.

Historically developed as a leisurely grooving with music, Dance now has assumed a structured art form that can be categorized and described by its choreography, repertoire of movements, or by its historical period or place of origin.

Amongst different classifications, place of origin of a dance style is most significant, as it reflects the root source of the aesthetics associated with a particular dance genre.

Among various dance styles of different origin, American origin dance forms have been very popular in the west and are progressively been adopted by dance arena across the globe.

The United States of America is a home to an array of dance styles including Hip-Hop, Tap Dance, and its derivative Rock and Roll, and modern square dance. The country has always been a hub of social and formal dancing including the vivid Swing dance, Jazz and Foxtrot.

Here is the list of the most popular dance forms that originated in America.

1. Swing dance

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Swing dance is a group of dances that developed with the swing style of jazz music in the 1920s–1940s. Out of hundreds of styles of swing dancing developed during that era, once that survive today include: Lindy Hop, Balboa, Collegiate Shag, and Charleston. The most well-known of these dances is the Lindy Hop, which originated in Harlem in the early 1930s. 

Swing is a quick, fast-paced couple dance, characterized by lots of swinging, flipping, and rhythmic tossing of dancers. It is a non-progressive dance style mostly performed in one spot. Unlike ballroom dancers, the swing dance couples hold hands as opposed to placing hands on the shoulders or around the waist.

If you dive into the world of swing dance, you will very often come across the term- Jitterbug. Jitterbug is an umbrella term that denotes all forms of swing dance, though it is often used as a synonym for the six-count derivative of Lindy Hop called “East Coast Swing”. Interestingly, a swing dancer is also known as jitterbug. Swing dance include a variety of uniquely partner dance styles:

  • Lindy Hop: Perhaps the most popular swing dance, this dance originated in Harlem.
  • East Coast Swing: Seen often on club or tavern dance floors, this dance was influenced by the Foxtrot.
  • West Coast Swing: A slotted dance in which the follower travels back and forth along a rectangle, or slot.
  • Jive: Jive is a fast-paced variation of the Jitterbug.
  • Boogie-woogie: This dance is usually danced to rock music or blues.
  • Carolina Shag: A dance performed to beach music.

2. Hip Hop dance

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Hip-hop dance originally was a street dance style performed to hip hop music. This free style dancing includes a wide range of techniques primarily breaking or break dance which was created in the 1970s.Developed as the most informal dance form, in the streets of America ,this dance style gradually garnered lime light through television shows like Soul Train and the 1980s films Breakin’, Beat Street, and Wild Style. The mainstream exposure, led to the evolution of  studio-based version of hip-hop—sometimes called “new style”—and a hip-hop influenced style of jazz dance called “jazz-funk”. Today, hip-hop dance is practiced in both dance studios and outdoor spaces.

With the increase in dance-focused shows such as So You Think You Can DanceAmerica’s Got Talent, America’s Best Dance Crew, and World of Dance, Hip-Hop dance has now become a staple of pop culture.

3. Jazz dance

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Jazz dance is the performance dance technique and style that emerged from the African American vernacular dance of the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. Jazz dance often refers to several related dance styles, all of them with the common origin as tap, ballet, jazz music, and African-American rhythms and dance. Jazz dance may refer to vernacular jazz or Broadway or theatrical jazz. Jazz dance is characterised by jumps and turns, which essentially requires correct postures to properly execute such moves A strong technical foundation is a must for this dance style, as it enables a Jazz dancer to focus on the stylistic and performance aspects of dance. Also, jazz dancers’ strong and sharp movements are greatly aided by a good background in ballet technique.

4. Foxtrot

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The foxtrot is a beautiful, romantic dance form evolved in1910 and gained maximum popularity in the 1930s. The dance styles is characterised by long, continuous flowing movements across the dance floor and is danced to big band (usually vocal) music. The foxtrot dance style essentially requires smooth movement, with no jerking of the body. Timing is also a very important component of the foxtrot. As it is a more challenging than other styles of dance, it is wise to learn the waltz and quickstep prior to attempting it. The slow foxtrot is a favourite among ballroom dancers .the American Social Style, the American Continuity Style, and the International Style are the three distinct styles of slow foxtrot which are commonly practiced by ballroom dancers today.

5. Modern dance

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Modern dance refers to a broad group of western concert or theatrical dance,evolved in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly in Germany and the United States as a result of various historical social changes.

The evolution of Modern Dance is marked by a rejection or reaction of the constraints and formality of ballet, especially the strict aristocratic roles and conformity from which ballet emerged. The revolutionary innovative dancers disregarded ballet’s strict movement vocabulary; the particular, limited set of movements, and stopped wearing corsets and pointe shoes in the search for greater freedom of movement.

Apart from movement modern dance holds contrast to ballet dance in term of relation to music, use of space and performers. In ballet, the dancer’s movements correspond harmoniously with the music, but in modern dance, dancers may dance off-beat or in contrast to the music, ignore the music completely, or dance on a silent stage.

Unlike the large casts and strict hierarchy of ballet, a modern dance choreographer may work alone or with smaller dance troupes. While ballet dancers typically face the audience directly, modern dancers use all orientations, even completely turning their back on the audience.


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