Choosing a Dance Style

Choosing a Dance Style

Dance is a broad and diverse art.  There are many different types of dancing that you can learn so choosing a dance style is usually the first thing to do.


If you already know what dance style you want to learn, that’s great.  Many people start dancing specifically because they saw a dance style they liked, or have a friend who does a particular style.   If you don’t know what a dance style is, or you are not sure which one you want to do then read on.


What is a Dance Style?

One of the great things about dance is that it is so rich and diverse.  There are many different forms of dance and these forms are commonly referred to as dance styles.  Each dance style has certain characteristics that define it.  Often a dance style has a particular type of music associated with it.  Shortly you should check out our Dance Style Guide to see what different styles look like.  When you do you will notice that the Dance Style Guide is divided into Partner Dances and Solo Dances.  So let’s look at that now.



Partner Dancing versus Solo Dancing

The very first thing you should decide about learning to dance is whether you want to learn a solo style, or a partner style.  We have put this question up front because it’s probably the easiest to answer.


Partner Dance Styles are essentially about dancing with another person, usually of the opposite sex.  Typical Partner Dance Styles include;

  • Argentine Tango
  • Ballroom
  • Salsa
  • Swing
  • Zouk

Solo Dance Styles are essentially about dancing by yourself, even if you are with a group.  Typical Solo Dance Styles include;

  • Classical (Ballet)
  • Contemporary
  • Hip Hop
  • Jazz
  • Tap


Great things about Partner Dancing

  • It’s very social because you are always dancing with somebody else
  • You will meet a lot of people in classes and at social dances
  • It’s good for couples who want to learn to dance together
  • You will learn to dance with somebody else, not just next to them
  • Typically less physically demanding than Solo or Individual styles
  • Most classes don’t require you to have your own partner as partners swap throughout the class


Typically the focus of teaching will be on;

  • Partner connection
  • Lead follow techniques
  • Style specific techniques
  • Dance patterns or figures
  • Musical expression


Great things about Solo Dancing

  • You don’t need a partner to dance or learn with
  • It is very useful in clubs and bars
  • It typically allows for much more expression and musicality
  • Typically more physically demanding


Typically the focus of teaching will be on;

  • Fundamental dance technique
  • Style specific techniques
  • Musical expression


If you still aren’t sure yet whether you want to learn a partner or solo style that’s ok, you should continue by looking at the Dance Style Guide.


Picking a Dance Style.

Apart from solo or partner dancing there are a number of factors to consider in selecting a specific dance style.   These include;

  • What style interests you and will motivate you to learn?
  • Do you have friends who already dance a particular style?
  • What dance styles are available and popular in your area?
  • What style suits your physical capabilities?


What style interests you?

This is the most important question of all.  Many people learn to dance because they saw a particular style that they fell in love with, perhaps it was the movement of that dance or the music it is done to, but something about that style captivated them.  If this is the case with you, then we would encourage you to pursue this style.


Not everybody who wants to learn how to dance knows what style they want to do however.  Many people simply know that they want to be able to dance.  That was the case with me and I dabbled unsuccessfully in a number of styles for over a year.  I had practically given up on the idea of learning to dance when I was lucky enough to find a style I fell in love with and a teacher that suited my learning style.  We hope that this guide helps people find a style they like in a more efficient way than I did.



Got friends who dance?

Many people get into dancing because they know somebody who does it.  If this is the case for you, then it’s worth considering looking at the style they dance and looking for classes in this style.  Most dance schools don’t mind people watching classes to decide if they want to do the dance.  Accompanying your friends to their class can help you decide if that style is one you would like.


What’s Available in your area?

It’s a good idea to find out what dance classes are available in your area.  It would be a shame if you decided to learn Country-Western dancing, only to find out nobody in your city teaches that style.


The easiest way to find out what styles are available in your area is via Google.  Many great dance schools only advertise via the web these days so Google is a better shot than traditional directory books.


Sometimes dance studios will run Open Days.  These are usually free and allow you to sample the different styles the dance studio has to offer.  Open Days are a great way to see firsthand the different dance styles available in your area.


The Dance Style Guide

At this point we recommend you take a look at the Dance Style Guide so you can see what different dance styles look like.


The Dance Styles Guide is divided into Partner Dance Styles and Solo Dance Styles. There you will find descriptions and videos of the most popular dances around today.


How Big Is The Scene?

What is ‘the scene’?  Dancers often refer to the ‘dance scene’.   This term refers to all the things that are going on in relation to a particular dance style in a given place.  It includes classes, regular social dances and parties, the number of people who dance that style, etc.   So when somebody says ‘the salsa scene in New York is huge’.  You should expect to find many salsa dancers, salsa social nights and salsa parties in New York (which you will).


If you are learning to dance for social reasons, then a big scene is a good thing.  Judging the size of a particular dance scene can be tricky however, especially when you are just starting out.


Facebook is a great resource for dancers.  Look for Facebook pages named after the dance style you are looking at and city you are in.  For example Salsa New York, or Swing Sydney.  The number of relevant pages and people who like those pages should give you an idea as to how vibrant a scene is.  There are usually dance pages run by social dance groups.  You can post questions about the dance on those Facebook pages.


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