SYTYCD: Dance Styles

Hip Hop: Hip Hop is an umbrella term to describe many different styles of dance, including breaking, popping, locking and many more. Like the old school moves of Salt ‘n’ Pepa, Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer and Bobby Brown? They’re masters of a style known as New Jack Swing. Demi: “Locking was created in the Soul Train era by accident by a guy called Don Campbell. He was trying to do a move called the Funky Chicken, and he ended up inventing locking!”

Breakdancing: Time: Early 70s. Place: The Bronx, NYC. Soundtrack: Hip Hop. Straight from the streets and the loose limbs of African American and Puerto Rican kids comes breakdancing. Unstructured and improvisational, breaking involves complicated footwork and impressive power moves.

Hip Hop Lyrical: See Hip Hop and Lyrical.

Swap (Swing/Hip Hop): A combination of the street smart moves of Hip Hop and the jazz-based dance of Swing. Confused? Check out Stephanie and Marko’s routine in the Top 18!

Boogaloo: As a style of music, smooth and funky Boogaloo was big in the US in the late ’60s. As a dance, it is loose, yet slick, minimalist and highly interpretative. As mentioned by Demi after her and Jack’s performance, it’s derived by popping and is all about feeling that funk!

Salsa: The word Salsa is the Spanish word for ‘sauce’ and what better way to describe this spicy, sexy and yes, saucy, partner dance! Like a sauce, it’s a fusion of several informal dance styles that have their roots in the Caribbean, Latin and North America.

Cha Cha: Get ready to get those hips swiveling! The Cha Cha is a Latin American dance of Cuban origin, performed to a faster beat that its cousin, the Rumba. Does the expression “cha cha cha!” ring some bells in your dance memory? That’s because the creator of Ballroom Cha-Cha, Pierre Lavelle, evolved this dance from the Mambo, replacing one slow step with three quick ones. Cha-cha-cha!!

Samba: You saw it, you loved it, and you know it’s all about shimmery, shaky red dresses… Hailing from the steamy streets of Brazil in the late 19th century, the lively Samba is danced in 2/4 time to Samba music, with three steps to every bar. Like the Paso Doble, it is a progressive International Latin dance. Demi: “The Samba is very rhythmical – you have to really sit into the beat”. There are a few sets of dances that define the Samba, so no one dance can be claimed to be the authentic Samba style.

Rumba: Let’s get ready to rumble! Uh, we mean, Rumba!! A visual expression of Afro-Cuban music, the Rumba is considered to be particularly erotic due to its sensually slow rhythm and the focus on hip movements.

Paso Doble: Every dance fan worth their salt would be familiar with the Paso Doble thanks to Baz Luhrmann’s hit film Strictly Ballroom, but did you know this dance originated in France? Nonetheless it is still is modeled after the sound, drama, and movement of the Spanish bullfight, and means “two step” in Spanish.

Tango: Of all the dance forms, the dramatic Tango is most commonly associated with romance and love. Originating from South America (specifically Buenos Aires, Argentina, Montevideo and Uruguay), the style evolved as response to cultural elements like crowded venues (hence the open embrace, or dancing chest-to-chest) and fashions in clothing.

Jive: Cast your mind back to the first Top 20 performance and you’ll recall Stephanie and Marko dancing the lively, uninhibited Jive. This is dance in fast 4/4 time, first danced by African Americans in the early ’40s. It’s a version of the Jitterbug, which is a form of Swing. In Ballroom dancing, Jive is one of the five International Latin dances. Jemma: “I love Jive, it’s so much fun and so energetic – you can just let go and have a blast with it”

Waltz: It’s hard to imagine the elegant waltz being shocking when it was first introduced, but fortunately for the dance world it became fashionable in Vienna around the 1780s, with worldwide popularity soon to follow. It’s closed position (as in, the dancers keep hold of each other), became the basis for the creation of many other Ballroom dances.

Jazz: Like Hip Hop, Jazz is an umbrella term that refers to dance styles connected via common roots, namely tap, ballet, jazz music, and African-American rhythms and dance. It originates from the late 1800s – early 1900s. Styles such as the Cakewalk, Black Bottom, Charleston, Jitterbug, Boogie Woogie, Swing dancing and the related Lindy Hop are all Jazz styles..

Contemporary Jazz: The bright lights of Broadway saw the evolution of Jazz into an entertaining, modern, smooth style. The movements are strong, sharp and have a basis in Ballet. As a style, it relies on originality and improvisation, and has a strong technical background.

Lyrical Jazz: See Lyrical and Jazz

Musical Theatre: Musical theatre generally refers to a form of theatre combining music, songs, spoken dialogue and dance. So as a dance genre, musical theatre refers to the dancing within a performance, which is generally very dramatic, expressive and entertaining. The themes of the story are communicated visually through the crowd-pleasing dance.

Lyrical: Lyrical dance is a fusion of ballet and jazz dance techniques. Lyrical invites dancers to use their bodies to express the meaning of the music, and consequently is a highly person artform. It is mainly performed to music with lyrics, but the name comes from the meaning of the word lyrical itself: having a poetic, expressive, personal quality. Lyrical is often moving, powerful and graceful, all at once.

Contemporary Lyrical: See Contemporary and Lyrical

Contemporary: Another umbrella term, Contemporary is the name given to a group of 20th century concert dance forms. These forms have been developed from Modern and Postmodern dance, many of which were developed in the first half of the 20th century. Contemporary dance often utilizes groundwork and the dancers often perform in bare feet.

Disco: Disco is most commonly known as a genre of dance-orientated pop music. The hip swivelling, groovy dance moves that evolved along with the popularity of the music reached a peak of popularity in the 1970s. For more, see Saturday Night Fever or Laura and Anthony’s routine in the Top 18!

Foxtrot: Invented by vaudeville actor Harry Fox, the Foxtrot is a Ballroom dance popular from the late teens to the early 1940s. The story goes that Fox couldn’t find girl dancers able to dance the more difficult two-step, so added stagger steps (two trots). And thus the basic Foxtrot rhythm of slow-slow-quick-quick was born!

Georgia Clark



About Georgia

I'm a young adult novelist with a weakness for hot nerds and cheese platters, not necessarily in that order. I am currently working on my third novel. I'm pretty excited about having just turned 30 because it means I can justify spending a lot of time thinking about homewares.
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