10 Most Popular Types of Dance


Types of Dance
23 May, 2024


Dance is a captivating form of art that has been a part of human culture for centuries. It is a way to express emotions, tell stories, and celebrate various occasions. From the graceful movements of ballet to the energetic steps of hip hop, dance comes in numerous styles. In this article, we will explore 10 most popular types of dance, looking into their history and intricacies.

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List of the 10 Popular Types of Dance Style

1: Ballet


Ballet is a highly technical form of dance with its origins dating back to the Italian Renaissance courts. This classic performing art tops our list of the 10 most popular types of dance. Pointe technique, where dancers perform on the tips of their toes, is a defining feature of ballet for female dancers. Major ballet styles include classical, romantic, neoclassical and contemporary.

Ballet is typically performed to orchestral music and often tells a story through choreographed works known as ballets. Ballet dancers must develop incredible strength, flexibility, and control to perform the intricate footwork, turns, and leaps. Some of the famous ballets like Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Giselle have iconic choreographies that are recognized worldwide.

2: Ballroom Dance


Ballroom dance includes a variety of partner dances that originated in European royal courts. The main categories are standard or smooth dances like waltz, foxtrot, and tango, and Latin or rhythm dances like the cha cha, rumba and samba. Hallmarks of ballroom include precise footwork patterns, body positions and holds, hip movements and turn techniques. Both partners must maintain a perfect frame and connection.

The ballroom is a popular social dance but also can be a competitive dancesport making it one of the 10 most popular types of dance. Top ballroom competitions like the Blackpool Dance Festival and World Championships showcase the highest levels of technical mastery, musicality, and choreography in the various ballroom dance styles.

3: Contemporary Dance


Contemporary dance is an integration of modern and classical dance techniques while exploring unconventional movements. Emerged in the 20th century, this dance form is an ever evolving style, pushing boundaries and allowing for individual interpretation. The choreography often conveys themes, emotions, or narratives through symbolic gestures and abstract movements.

Pioneers like Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Isadora Duncan, Katherine Dunham, Lester Horton, Alvin Ailey, and many more have shaped the types of dance, using their full bodies, incorporating floorwork and intricate footwork. This unrestricted style draws from many sources, including ballet, modern jazz, hip-hop, and ethnic dances. Contemporary dance routines blend different techniques, creating unique movement sequences and original choreographic works.

4: Hip Hop Dance

Hip Hop

Hip hop dance originated from the hip hop culture of the 1970s in New York City. It emerged as an energetic street style focused on improvisation, freestyle movements and defying gravity and became one of the most popular types of dance. Hip hop dance styles include breaking, locking, popping, krumping, and more. Dancers pull from influences like funk styles and acrobatic moves to dynamic footwork, spins, and floorwork. Hip hop’s hard-hitting choreography and athletic movements are typically set to hip-hop music with driving bass rhythms.

It revolutionized dance by introducing edge techniques like tutting, waving, gliding, and hitting. Hip hop’s urban style has spread worldwide through music videos and competitions, making it one of the 10 most popular types of dance.

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5: Jazz Dance


Jazz dance developed in conjunction with jazz music in the early 20th century. With roots in African dance traditions, jazz dance fused aspects of modern and ballet with grounded, percussive and syncopated movements. It emphasizes musicality through intricate footwork and isolations of the body. Jazz dance choreography highlights high energy, rhythmic control, improvisation, and individual expression.

Iconic jazz dance styles include Broadway, Fosse, Latin jazz and Street jazz. Jazz dance was popularized through stage musicals and movies, utilizing dynamic leaps, turns, kicks, and body isolations. This dance style branches into subgenres such as funk, lyrical, and contemporary jazz, fusing various influences.

6: Tap Dance

Tap Dance

Tap dance is a unique percussive style of dance that creates rhythms through the tapping of metal plates attached to the dancer’s shoes. It originated in the United States through a fusion of African, Irish, and British step dances. Tap is an essential part of modern musical theater and one of the 10 most popular types of dance.

Tap is defined by rhythmic footwork patterns and sequences, allowing dancers to essentially compose music through their choreography. Great tap dancers display perfect rhythmic understanding, quality of sound, and stage presence. Major tap styles include rhythm, broadway and improvised percussive tap. Famous tap legends like Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Sammy Davis Jr, and Gregory Hines mastered iconic tap dancing choreographies.

7: Folk Dance

Folk Dance

Folk dances represent the cultural identity and traditions passed down through generations within a regional society. These ethnic dances were originally performed in celebratory movements dancing for rituals, social events and to pass on folkloric tales. Folk dancing is an expression of community life as each dance’s choreography, music, and costuming differs based on the local culture.

Notable examples include Irish step dancing, Spanish flamenco, Native American powwow, Polynesian hula, and Indian classical dances such as Bharatanatyam and Kathak. Folk dances preserve the heritage and ethnic identity of diverse populations through patterns, storytelling choreography and colorful traditional attire representing their ancestry.

8: Irish Dance

Irish Dance

Irish dance encompasses traditional solo and group Celtic dances from Ireland. The most well known style is Irish step dancing, featuring upright posture, intricate footwork with razor-sharp strikes, kicks and crossover steps. Irish dance grew internationally famous through touring shows like Riverdance and has become one of the popular types of dance.

Set choreography and improvisation both play a role in Irish jigs, reels, and hornpipe folk music in various time signatures. Arms are held rigidly at the sides while the feet perform lightning fast rhythmic patterns characterized by precision. Irish dancing involves using the full foot through repeated battering footwork across the floor. Major styles include step, sean nos, céilí and set dances.

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9: Modern Dance

Modern Dance

Emerged in the early 20th century, modern dance is a rebellion against the constraints of classical ballet. The relevance of this style in today’s world makes it one of the 10 most popular types of dance. This abandoned rigid technical rules to allow for a more flowing, interpretive dance style. Thus, the modern choreographers rejected classical ballet’s strict foot positions, costumes and storyline ballets. These promoters of this dance form embraced the torso movement, flexed feet positions and other choreographic works.

Major pioneers like Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, and Merce Cunningham established modern dance as a groundbreaking art form focused on the fundamental core of human movement.

10: Swing Dance

Swing Dance

Among the types of dance forms, Swing dance has originated from the swing style of jazz music popular in the 1920s and 1940s. It features lively, grounded movements performed with rhythmic step patterns and rocking motions. Iconic swing styles evolved during this era were the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, East Coast Swing, Charleston, and Balboa.

Swing dancing focuses on partnering, fancy footwork, aerials, and playful improvisation. The carefree, energetic steps are matched the upbeat tempos of big band jazz music. In the 1990s, Lindy Hop made a revival with a new resurgence of urban swing dancing fusing various styles.


What type of dance is most popular?

Hip hop dance is often considered one of the most popular dance styles globally, particularly among younger generations.

What dance is popular in the US?

In the United States, various dance styles are popular, including hip hop, contemporary, jazz, and ballroom dances like salsa and bachata.

What is the most famous dance on TikTok?

Some of the most famous dances on TikTok include the “Renegade” dance, the “Blinding Lights” challenge, and the “Savage” dance.

What is the most expressive dance?

Contemporary dance is often considered one of the most expressive dance styles, as it allows dancers to convey emotions, ideas, and narratives through unconventional and free flowing movements.

What are the 5 most popular partner dances?

Some of the most popular partner dances include:

  • Swing dance
  • Ballroom dances like the waltz, tango, and foxtrot.
  • Salsa

What are some famous tap dancers and performances?

Some famous tap dancers and performances include Fred Astaire in various Hollywood musicals, Savion Glover in the Broadway production of “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk,” and the iconic dance numbers in classic films like “Singing in the Rain” and “The Wiz.”

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