What is Dance?


The origins of Dance can be traced back to India about 9,000 years ago through cave paintings. The third millennium BCE marked a time when more civilizations began to adopt dance for a variety of reasons. At this point, dance was used by people as a way to enjoy themselves, perform for others, and for ritualistic purposes.

Although some dance is performed without preparation, such as freestyle dance, much of performance-based and competitive dance is done with prior choreography put in place. This gives dancers a chance to learn or come up with more complex dances that will make for a better routine.

Competitive dance usually involves choreographed moves in which dancers are scored based on their performances. Numerous categories of different competitions exist in the world of dance including, jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary, dancesport, or ballroom dancing, and many more. While some categories involve a solo dancer, others may call for duos, trios, or entire dance squads. These can take place at the regional and even the national level.


dance history

The idea of social dancing dates back to the 1920s. However, the sport of dance began in 1957 with the creation of the International Council of Amateur Dancers or the (ICAD). Later on, it was changed to the World Dance Sport Federation in order to display the international nature of the sport. Early on, their main goal was to put on amateur competitions in order to discover new talent and give dancers the opportunity to display their moves.

Playing Surface

dance floors

The playing surface of a dance competition can vary from event to event. In some cases, one might perform on a stage if it is a large-scale event. One might also perform on a ruler floor if the event is smaller scale. Regardless of the surface on which you’re performing, most of the floors are “sprung dance floors.” These floors add a springiness and reduce shock. It is also proven that these floors will reduce injury.


Dance Equipment

Equipment for the sport of dancing is pretty unique in that you really only need the correct pair of shoes. The type of shoe that is preferable will vary depending on what type of dance you are doing. For example, some of the types of dance shoes include ballet flats to ballroom shoes to even jazz shoes. Another piece of equipment that varies from competition to competition is the clothing worn by the dancers. The outfit will vary depending on how formal the event is.


The game play for dance as a sport is pretty unique. In the majority of competitions, each team or individual will perform at different times than their opponent. Next, the judges will give a score out of a number of different categories. In some competitions, dancers will just have one round and that will be it for the competition, but there are also some that have multiple rounds to narrow it down to the finals.

Dance Types

list of dance types

There are many different types of dance. One of the most popular today is contemporary dance. This is a mixture of ballet, modern and jazz. Contemporary allows you to be creative with your moves and be free with what you are doing. Next, there is hip-hop style dance, which of course is performed to hip-hop music. Different types of dances can go under this category as well such as breakdancing, pop-locking and krumping. Lastly, there are the more formal dances like ballroom, jazz and ballet. Though this is not an all-encompassing list, those are a few of the popular dance types. 

Rules and Regulations

Dance Rules and Regulations

There are not many rules when it comes to physical dancing, but there are some guidelines when it comes to the preparation. For example, dancers usually need to wear a particular outfit depending on the type of dance they are doing. As a dancer, one is also required to stay and watch the entire competition in order to receive their rank or score. Lastly, most competitions do not allow any jewelry of any kind.

Uniform: You need to be dressed to match ur team or competition requirement.

No Jewelry: You can not wear jewelry during the competition.

Referees and Officials

dance referees and officials

Usually in the sport of dance there will not be referees. Instead, there will often be a panel of judges. They will judge a dancer on a number of different categories playing into their final score such as execution, presentation, and overall whether the dancer executed what was being asked of them. The judges are chosen depending on what type of dance is being done. Different qualifications will be necessary from the judges for each type of dance performed in a competition.

Lingo and Terminology

Dance Terms List

Terminology for dance is very important for the performer. Each type of dance has its own unique lingo. For instance, in ballet you have different potions like first position, second position, etc. To go along with that, you have different moves such as a plie. There is also a lot of lingo when it comes to specific dance moves. For instance, breaking it down is a term often used when the dancer is getting close to the ground.

1st position: A certain body and foot position in ballet with the feet together at the heels and the toes pointed outward.

Plie: When your heels are together in ballet and you make a squatting motion.

Breaking down: When you dance close to the floor

Skills and Techniques

List Of Dance Skills

Some of the most important skills a dancer can have when it comes to dance sport are balance and agility. If one possesses these two qualities, they should have a leg up in beginning a dance career. Some techniques for dance include a dancer keeping their eyes off the floor, keeping their stomach muscles engaged, and keeping their feet turned outward. Even though these skills and techniques will not work for every type of dance, they are good to keep in mind when beginning to learn.


A knowledgeable dance coach is one of the most important components of being involved in the sport. Dating back to the late 1800s all the way up until present day, there have been some fantastic dance coaches who have helped to train some phenomenal dancers. The names go on from Martha Graham, who founded the Martha Graham Dance Company, to George Balanchine, the founder of the School of American Ballet, to Paul Taylor who was widely considered one of the best choreographers, and many more.

Martha Graham: Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham etc.

George Balanchine: Choreographer for students at the American School for Ballet.


Dance Coaching

A dance coach is extremely important for the success of dancers. Most coaches pride themselves in leading and acting as a mentor for their students. Especially when the dancers are young and at the immature level, many coaches will take these students under their wing. It is also crucial that dance coaches have a thorough understanding of many different dance methods in order to work with a range of different students successfully.


Strategy does play an important role when it comes to learning dance and routines. One important strategy that many dancers use to learn a new dance is watching videos of the dance before they attempt it for the first time. Another important strategy they use is self-assessing. This is when you self assess your own performance, which is why dance is oftentimes practiced in front of a mirror.


Dance Drills

Dancers do not really do drills per say when it comes to learning a new dance skill, but they do execute many exercises to improve performance. The most important thing dancers can exercise is their legs because that is where the dancing often stems from. As a result, dancers end up doing a lot of cardio, making their legs very strong. Dancers also do a lot of squats and lunges to make their calves, specifically, strong. Even though these are not directly affecting the physical dance, it helps them keep in the right shape to perform successfully.

Players and Athletes

Throughout history there have been many fantastic dancers who have graced our world and caused us great joy and entertainment. Some of them in the genre of ballet, like Anna Pavlova, who was one of the best ballerinas of all time. Another one of the all time dance performers, Michael Jackson, who invented the ground-breaking dance, the moonwalk and has been known for his captivative music video dances. Then there is ballroom and tap-dancing where Fred Astaire always stole the show.

  • Anna Pavlova: Ballet
  • Michael Jackson: Moonwalk, Music Videos
  • Fred Astaire: Ballroom, Tap


The world of dance does not have specific leagues as other sports do, but they do separate their competitions with a number of different categories. One of these categories divides dancers by age. When beginning a dancing career, you are usually asked to report to your age group. Then, as a dancer gets older and more experienced in their dancing abilities, they will then be separated by skill-level. This is when you get more into the competitive side of dance. The National Dance League (NDL) is a professional league based in the USA and Canada.


There are many different brands that define the world of dance. In the world of ballet, there is Bloch. This company has changed the game for ballet dancers all around the world. When it comes to dance in general, The Ailey Studios is one of the best in the world. This studio was founded in 1958 and is based in New York City. It is run by artistic director Robert Battle who teaches and instructs 32 dancers at a time.

  • Bloch: Best clothing for ballet
  • Alvin Ailey: One of the higher level dance studios in The United States.

Youth Organizations

Starting young as a dancer is very important to achieve a high-level of competition. Luckily, all around the world, there are fantastic youth organizations for children to get involved in dance. For instance, there's the ODC Dance Program that works with kids of all ages to help improve their dance skills. Also, more skilled dancers can attend something like the National Dance Institute. This institution specializes in bellet, but also works with all kinds of dancers to perfect their art. Without these youth organizations, the dance company would not be what it is today.

  • ODC: This organization helps amature dancers improve their skills.  
  • National Dance Institute: This organzations is for more skilled dancers.


Dance tournaments are a huge part of the sport, especially at the amature level. These competitions not only allow dancers to compete with one another, but they also allow them to display their talent at a broader level. Tournaments like the United States Tournament of Dance, which was created in 1976, bring dancers from all walks of life together all around the United States. As a dancer gets older, the tournaments get more intense and rigorous.

  • United States Tournament of Dance: All levels and ages
  • World Dance Championship: A NJ-based dance tournament

Books About Dance

A great way to learn about a topic is through reading and dance is no different. There are books like The Art of Making Dances that could be very helpful in developing an understanding of dance. This book discusses the history of dance as well as the details of the physical rhythm and dynamics. There are also fantastic books about specific dance types such as Ballet & Modern Dance. In this book, they go more in depth about ballet, which would be extremely helpful if you are beginning to learn this particular type of dance.


There are many websites that can be helpful for learning dance. You can go to websites to learn how to dance. YouTube, for example, has many different tutorials on how to learn many different dances. This is how many individuals learn how to dance in the first place. There are also more specialized websites that will give you professional dance lessons online, but they are not free. You could use websites like these when you are a little bit more experienced.


What is dance?

Dance is an activity or sport individuals do for a number of different reasons. Some people do it simply for the joy, while others do it for the exercise, and some even do it as a career.

What equipment is used for dance?

A great thing about dance is that you do not necessarily need equipment. Once you get a little more advanced or specialized in a specific genre, then you might need to purchase some specific shoes.