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5 popular western dances your mini dancer needs to know about

By Pallavi Kanungo,

Hip hop, ballet and jazz are widely celebrated fusion dance forms.

Ballet is a western dance form that often narrates a story.

Children often don’t respond well to conventional physical activities like sports and exercise. Instead, they want to engage in something creative and exciting, and dance is one activity that excites kids. While traditional dance forms are usually the first choice in India to get children trained in an extra-curricular activity, some kids may not find the classical steps and moves that engaging. Western dance forms like hip hop or salsa can be good options for them. Western dance involves extreme and enriching workout and kids who practise these regularly often experience significant changes in their overall health. Here are 5 western dance forms that might be of interest to kids. 

Hip Hop 
Hip hop is essentially a fusion dance form associated with the hip hop culture that originated in America in the 1970s. It includes popular variety of dances like jazz, ballet, tap dance, popping, breaking and locking and is essentially performed to hip hop music like pop and funk. People started with this genre as part of the street dance culture, but it soon become a serious hobby and even a profession. Hip hop became popular overnight because of its improvising (‘freestyle’) nature. In fact, professional hip hop troupes often participate in ‘freestyle’ competitions, also known as ‘battles,’ one of the major identifiers of this dance form. Staying close to the ground and balancing the body on the hands and head are also hip-hop specialties. This contemporary dance form is characterised by extensive choreography carried out by the crew as part of an ensemble.  

Break Dance 
Made globally famous by the music legend Michael Jackson and practised largely by the fun-loving African American community, break dance is a street style of dancing that originated in the United States. It is also called breaking or b-boying (or b-girling) and is a blend of dance and athletics. It combines unique and energetic movements, like those of acrobatics or gymnastics. The specialty of this genre is dancing on particular beats that are produced when different genres of music are mixed together. Break dancers choose comfort over style and usually wear sweatshirts and sneakers while performing, to lower the pressure on the body. The most recognizable dance steps of breaking are top rock, foot work, freezes, power moves, go down, transitions, flips and tricks. Break dance is accompanied by a set of breakbeat music containing drum-breaks and ranges of tempo. 

Ballet is a European dance form that is now internationally acclaimed. It originated in fifteenth century Italy and is performed on soft classical music. It is a serious and very technical dance form, with its vocabulary closely associated with the French culture. In fact, other popular dance genres around the world uses ballet styles in their performance, because of the foundational nature of it. Ballet is usually performed wearing a classic one-piece costume suitable for better flexibility. It has been immensely popular with people from royal background because of its classical and story-telling nature. It is easily identified from its tip toe movement, also called pointe work. 

Tap Dance 
As the name suggests, tap dance involves a lot of footwork and tapping along with it. Tap dancers mostly wear fitted shoes with metal plates and heels creating tap sounds to rhythmic music. Although tap dance originated in America in the 1800s, it involves music that’s a unique blend of British and American music. In fact, tap dance borrows elements from other European dance genres like the Irish jigs, Scottish step dancing and English clog dancing. It is fun yet highly competitive dance form. Tap dancers also create music by making sounds on a hard surface. It evolved alongside jazz, and has remained a popular dance form ever since. 

This avant-garde dance form originated the mid-twentieth century USA. The types of jazz include – vernacular jazz and dramatic (Broadway) jazz. While the former involves ragtime steps like mambo and Charleston, the latter was popularized because of its commercial nature. What is significant is that, jazz dance and jazz music, although often interlinked, are in fact unrelated. Jazz is said to be a reflection of the artist’s own personality. It involves three unconventional turning moves, namely basic turns (chains, arouses and pirouettes), jazz turns and ballet turns. The popular leaping moves are Grande jetes, turning jumps and tour jetes. Jazz is synonymous with jazz walk, jazz square and contraction that are also performed as part of other dance forms. Learning jazz requires a lot of dedication because of its detailed curriculum.