Spotlight on Dancing
A classic art form using formal steps and gestures. Ballet is also a great way to get in shape as it is very physically demanding. The dance may tell a story, express a particular mood, or just describe and enhance a piece of music. Many of the movements are actually quite unnatural for the human body to perform, but done well and skillfully they look natural. Dancers must be able to dance on their toes and stretch their legs above their head. Ballet requires flexibility and a great deal of training. There are many famous ballets like The Nutcracker, Giselle and Sleeping Beauty.
This is an acrobatic dance that originated in the 1970s in New York. The dance then spread worldwide. It is often performed to rap music. Break dance is also known as breaking, b-girling or b-boying. There are four kinds of movements in the dance - toprock, downrock, power moves, and freezes. The 1983 film Flashdance was one of the first films to feature break dancing and bring it to the mainstream. In the final scene Jennifer, the main character, performs a routine featuring a break dancing move called the whip backspin. She spins on her back, with her legs tucked in to her chest. The routine was actually carried out by the (male) breakdancer Richard Colon.
An intense dance which originated in Cuba, or perhaps South America, depending on who you ask. There are many different forms of salsa. It’s hot and sultry, and it’s important to maintain eye contact with your partner. Yes, gaze deep into their eyes… In many styles of salsa, the top half of the body remains level. The dancer shifts their weight by stepping, and moving their hips and arms. One person is the ‘lead’ dancer. They communicate with the ‘follower’ about which way to dance, and movements to make, holding one or both hands.
The tango as it is known today originated in around 1880 in South America, specifically the dance halls of Buenos Aires. Here the Spanish tango – a variety of flamenco – merged with the milonga, a much faster and more disreputable Argentian dance style. Although the tango was not socially acceptable at first, by about 1915 it had become a craze across Europe. The music changed as well, from lively and full of spirit to more melancholy.
It may be that hip hop started in the 1920s when Earl Tucker (known as Snake Hips) invented a dance style similar to today’s hip-hop moves, using floats and slides. In the 1950s the guitar player Bo Diddley was playing very distinctive music which was a precursor to the hip hop movement of the 70s. His use of African rhythms and a simple five-accent signature beat is a cornerstone of the hip hop that we know today.