Is Dancing a Sport? Learn About the Different Types of Dance

At first, dancing was a recreational activity and pastime, but soon, people started to compete with each other to see who danced the best. Eventually, dancing competitions appeared all over the world, and before long, dancing became a very competitive sport in which you could win medals. Soon, it even became an Olympic sport.

There is a large number of dance types and categories, ranging from Latin American to Ballroom and even African American and Jazz dances. Let’s take a look at these different dance types that are now part of a popular sport that has people flocking to competitions.

  • Waltz
  • Tango
  • Cha-Cha-Cha
  • Samba
  • Swing
  • Flamenco
  • Polka
  • Country And Western Dances
  • Ballet
  • House dance
Is Dancing a Sport? Learn About the Different Types of Dance
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Waltz

This dance was introduced in the 19th century and developed into the famous ballroom dance that is practiced by millions of people around the world both for sport and leisure.

Is Dancing a Sport? Learn About the Different Types of Dance
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Today, there are other similar Waltz dances that descended from the original English Slow Waltz, such as the famous Viennese Waltz. 

It is much faster at 180 beats per minute. This was also the first dance that introduced the concept of close dancing between two people. 

Variations

In the Special Olympics, the Slow English Waltz, as well as the faster Viennese Waltz, is recognized as a separate sport that forms part of the ballroom dancing category

If you look at this type of dancing, it definitely is a sport, and these competitors compete professionally at a very high level.

Tango

This dance originated in the Río de la Plata region in Argentina. It is the forerunner of many tango styles. Many nationalities contributed to this dance, but the meaning and origin of the word tango are unknown.

Is Dancing a Sport? Learn About the Different Types of Dance
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From its humble origins at the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the 19th century, the Tango has become one of the most popular dances of all time. 

Today, it is part of the ballroom category of dances and has been seen at the Olympic games for many years, where dancers perform at very high levels. 

Variations

Even though there are many different variations of the Tango all around the world, the main forms are known as the Argentine and the Ballroom style. 

Where the Ballroom style is a bit slower, the Argentine style has more staccato and sharp movements.

Cha-Cha-Cha

The cha-cha-cha, or cha-cha, is a popular dance that has spread all over the world. It originated in Cuba in the early 1950s and was made popular by famous violinist and composer Enrique Jorrín.

Is Dancing a Sport? Learn About the Different Types of Dance
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This dance was developed when Jorrín found that many dancers could not cope with the syncopated rhythm of the danzon and mambo dances

He then developed a dance that would be more appealing to his music style and introduced it to the dancers at the gigs where he performed. 

Variations

The dancers incorporated a triple step into the movements of their feet which produced the cha-cha-cha sound, creating this new dance style. 

Today cha-cha is part of the World DanceSport Federation, in which performers compete at a very high level, and many people attend these events.

Samba

This dance originated from Brazil and the coastal regions of West Africa. This lively dance is considered the national dance style of Brazil and is danced by millions at Brazilian carnivals every year.

Is Dancing a Sport? Learn About the Different Types of Dance
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The Samba dance style that is part of the World Dance Class Championships is not the same as the original style. 

The Ballroom dance that originated from Brazil is characterized by simple backward and forward steps that are accompanied by tilting and rocking movements of the body. 

Competitions

This dance style became very popular during the 1940s in Western Europe, as well as in the United States, where it is part of the ballroom dance category. 

Today, this dance from Brazil is a recognized dancesport that is performed all around the world in professional dance competitions.

Swing

Swing came from the Jazz Swing styles of the 1930s and 40s before becoming part of the Swing era. The most popular Swing dancing style is the Lindy hop that originated in Harlem in the 1930s. 

Is Dancing a Sport? Learn About the Different Types of Dance
Image Source: Everything About Dancesport

Most styles of Swing originated in African-American communities. While Swing originated from the Jazz dance styles that were already popular, it is a very popular dance style in its own right. 

It became very popular because it is a dance style that can be performed in just one spot even on a very crowded dance floor. 

Category

Swing is part of the traditional Jazz dances and Afro-American category. 

It also paved the way for a wide range of Swing dance styles that are performed around the world on a professional level.

Flamenco

This very energetic and expressive dance style is a Spanish dance form that was introduced in the 18th century. It is performed by just one person.

Is Dancing a Sport? Learn About the Different Types of Dance
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This dance is normally accompanied by a flamenco guitar player and comes with handclaps, percussive footwork and arm movements. Many new Flamenco dance styles are performed today.

One of these is the Flamenco Nuevo dance style. This is a new Flamenco dance style that was developed in the 1980s when the original Flamenco dance was fused with modern rock and blues. 

Levels

Flamenco dance also became part of the dancesport federation, and performers compete in professional competitions around the world, as well as at the Olympic level. 

Many people around the world are learning this dance style because of the exotic movements that remind them of the old Gypsies of Spain.

Polka

Polka is one of the most popular and influential dance styles in the western hemisphere. After World War II, the Polka dance style became very popular in the United States. 

Is Dancing a Sport? Learn About the Different Types of Dance
Image Source: Pattie Wells’ Dance Time

It originated from Poland and the Czech Republic. This dance style was limited to the peasant population of those countries that were not part of the royal courts of that time. 

Polka is part of the world dances category and is performed as a dancesport around the world at a professional level. 

High-Class Dancing

During the early 1800s, Polka became a very popular ballroom dance style in Prague and was soon part of the dances of the high-class dancers of Vienna. 

Polka came to the US with the soldiers who were part of the war and soon became a very popular dance style.

Country and Western Dances

This dance style includes various styles and forms danced to Country and Western music. Some popular Country and Western dances include different line dancing associated with American Country.

Is Dancing a Sport? Learn About the Different Types of Dance
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The Country Western Waltz dance style is very similar to the Ballroom Waltz dance style but has a more relaxed approach to it. 

Some of those who are doing professional Ballroom Waltz dancing see the Country Western Waltz dancing style as a sloppy type of dance. 

Style

Even though it may look like it is sloppy, the whole idea was a relaxed dance style instead of the stiff upper body type of ballroom dance style. 

Country and Western dance styles are very popular around the world and are performed by professional dancers in a variety of dancesport competitions.

Ballet

There is no question about the sports status of this dance style, which is performed on many different levels. Some people believe that Ballet should not be part of the Olympics.

Is Dancing a Sport? Learn About the Different Types of Dance
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Ballet is practiced as a dancesport by millions of people around the world. Of all performance dances, this is one of the most popular

It originated during the 15th century in Italy and was later introduced to such countries as France and Russia, where it became very popular very quickly. 

Influence

The Ballet dance style also had a large influence on many of the other popular dance styles around the world. 

Ballet dancers can be found at many levels of competitions in many different categories around the world at high levels of professionalism.

House Dance

This dance style became very popular in the US when it was born in clubs in New York City and Chicago. This was right after the popularity that Disco enjoyed among the youth in the 1960s.

Is Dancing a Sport? Learn About the Different Types of Dance
Image Source: Dance Me Free

House Dance is a mixture of movements that are borrowed from a variety of dance styles and incorporated into the House Dance style. 

It is a mixture of Jazz, Funk, R&B, Latin, Soul, and many other dance styles from around that time. 

Competitions

Even though the House dance style is not considered a sport, there is a wide range of dance-off competitions in this style. 

The House dance style is a social dance that quickly became popular around the world.

Summary

These are only a few of the many dance styles from around the world, and many of them are quite popular. 

Many of these dance styles are recognized as valid sport types and are incorporated with some of the worldwide dancesport federations and organizations.