Ah, the joy of jigging along to a joyful tune knows no bounds! Whether you’re a naturally-gifted dancer, a closeted dancer, or someone who likes to shake it whether they’re good at it or not, dancing is one of those activities that always brings a genuine smile to your face and a surge of happiness through your body.
It’s natural to want your kids to experience that, too. It also helps that dancing is said to be a super-fun form of exercise! So, on the occasion of International Dance Day 2021, let’s explore the different dance forms around the world, and help you pick the right dance style to engage in with your bouncy, energetic little one!
When is International Dance Day?
International Dance Day is celebrated every year on April 29. It is a day dedicated to the beautiful and expressive art form of dance, which is practiced by millions of people from different cultures and backgrounds all around the world. The International Day of Dance celebrates the existence and practice of this art form, and encourages awareness of its benefits and need.
History of Dance
The history of dance in our world is vast and wide-spread. Did you know that the earliest documented evidence of dancing was found in 9,000-year-old cave paintings in India? That’s pretty cool, right! Other evidences of ancient dancing cultures were found in Egypt and Greece. In Egyptian culture, dances became an integral part of religious ceremonies, and in Greece, dances were performed before important events, such as the ancient Olympic Games (a tradition that continues today!).
Dances were also performed at big celebrations, such as at annual festivities, in ancient Greece, held in honour of the Greek God of Wine, Dionysus. Such celebrations displayed dancing girls, musicians, and plenty of food and drink. As time went on and the world progressed, various dance forms, along with music, evolved across Europe, and became more modern, flamboyant, and culture-oriented. For example, ballet was cultivated to cater to the upper class; Baroque dances were the fashion of French and English courts; the waltz was adapted from the Czech polka dance.
Since then, many moderns forms of dance have come into play, such as the foxtrot, tango, swing, and the Charleston, and progressive forms such as breakdance, hip-hop dance, and contemporary dance. Most dance forms originating from ancient cultures are still practiced today.
Advantages of Dancing
The benefits of dancing are seemingly endless. And the best part is, they apply to both adults and kids! No matter how old you are, it’s never too early or late to start dancing. Let’s take a look at some great advantages of dancing for everyone:
- It is a great form of physical exercise, and improves cardiovascular health, strength, balance, and stamina.
- It is good for mental health, as movements help to release stress, improve self-esteem, and reduce anxiety.
- Dancing can serve as a brain booster by improving memory and concentration, and skills like organising and planning.
- It is a wonderful social activity, and can help to improve self-confidence and social skills, and to make friends.
- Dancing is an inclusive activity. Whether someone is good at it or not, or if they have a physical or health disability, it doesn’t matter – everyone can dance, and there is a dance form for each person’s needs!
What are the Various Kinds of Dance Styles?
This question is a favourite of dance lovers and trivia hoarders. There are so many different types and styles of dances in the world that it can be difficult to ennumerate them in a list (but we’ll try!). There are dance styles by occasion (social gatherings, religious events, traditional celebrations, events and festivities, competitions, leisure), dance styles by era (ancient cultural forms, modern or new-age forms), and dance styles by culture and global location (Indian, Latin-American, Chinese, African, English, Spanish, etc.).
Let’s put names to some of these dance styles, shall we? Read on to find out the different dance forms in India and other parts of the world!
Indian Dance Forms
As mentioned, India houses the oldest evidence of dancing in some of its 9,000-year-old caves. It is a vast country with a deep and colourful cultural presence that has given birth to hundreds of traditions, rituals, and ceremonies, most of which have an added association of music and dance.
Most Indian dance forms either narrate a story, are performed in the honour of a God or Goddess, or hold cultural or communal significance.
Check out these Indian dance forms below – how many of them do you know of?
- Kathak, from Uttar Pradesh
- Bharatanatyam, from Tamil Nadu
- Kuchipudi, from Andhra Pradesh
- Bhangra, from Punjab
- Ghoomar, from Rajasthan
- Kathakali, from Kerala
- Bihu, from Assam
- Lavani, from Maharashtra
- Manipuri, from Manipur
- Rouf, from Jammu and Kashmir
International Dance Forms
Dance forms around the world have evolved and progressed as cultures and communities modernised themselves. Many ancient dance forms still exist, and many new ones have popped up over the recent decades. The ancient styles used to mark important events like religious ceremonies or traditional festivities, and the newer styles denote a more social and leisurely culture of dance.
Take a look at these international dance forms – how many of these have you heard of?
- Flamenco, from Spain
- Cossack, from Ukraine
- Barong, from Indonesia
- Adumu, from Kenya and Tanzania
- Ballet, from Russia
- Kabuki, from Japan
- Sufi Whirling, from Turkey
- Samba, from Brazil
- Jazz, from the USA
- Breakdancing, from the USA
How to Choose the Best Dance Style for Your Kids
As parents, we might be excited and eager to enrol our kids in dancing lessons, and have them master the art in no time. Maybe we want them to just have fun, or become healthier, or learn a new hobby. Now, here’s the catch: it’s not really up to us! A child has to innately enjoy doing something in order to have fun with it. Forcing your kid into dance classes might backfire and result in low self-confidence, while giving the same exposure to a kid who absolutely loves music and dance will show positive results.
Is your little one ready to start dancing? Here are a few tips to keep in mind to nurture that spirit and find the right dance style for your child:
- Consider a long-term plan. Does your child want to learn dancing as a hobby, or want to eventually take it up competitively?
- Also consider your child’s interests. What type of dance would she like to learn? When the child has a personal interest in the hobby, she is more likely to be happy with it and enjoy it.
- Look at the benefits of dancing for your little one. Do you want her to be in a social environment where she can make friends and have fun with dancing, or use it to get healthier?
- The cost of dancing lessons is another topic for thought. The high-end classes taught by accomplished experts can be quite heavy on the pocket, while more local classes taught by naturally-talented men and women are more affordable. Choose the best fit and class size for your child.
- Check your child’s schedule. With school, homework, extra-curriculars, other hobbies, and downtime, make sure that she has enough time to spare for dance lessons without getting overwhelmed or fatigued.
- Start your child off with easy-to-learn dance forms. Talk to her about them, show her what they look like, and let her choose what she wants to learn. Some popular dance styles are:
- Calisthenics movement classes
- Remember to praise and encourage your child on her efforts, and to motivate her if things get a little tough or rough!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should you purchase a dance costume for your kid?
This depends on the requirements of the dance classes. The instructor might require the students to wear certain types of clothing, like leotards and leggings, or leggings and T-shirts. In that case, you will need to purchase the clothing items you don’t have. In some cases, if there is a dance performance or a competition at the end of the classes, then a costume might be needed. In other cases, instructors might ask the students to simply dress in loose, comfortable clothing that afford plenty of movement. Then, you won’t have to buy a costume.
2. How can you find the best dance class for your kid?
As mentioned in the points above, there are some things to keep in mind when looking for a dance class. Look for a class that teaches the style your child wants to learn, suits your budget, has a reasonable class size, is preferably close to your home, and fits into your child’s and your schedules.
3. At what age can my child start learning dance?
Your child can start learning dance whenever she starts exhibiting enjoyment in movement! Kids can learn dance as early as the age of twoor three, but most dance classes that cater to that age group are for fun, movement, balance, and coordination, and only focus on technique when the child is slightly older. However, don’t let that deter you from helping your child learn dance – she will definitely pick up a few skills, and will have plenty of fun with it!
So, if you think that your little one will enjoy dance, then the time to nurture it is now. The benefits are life-long, and imagine how precious she will look as she tries to learn choreography!