What is universally acknowledged to be the most fun form of exercise? Dance, of course! Dancing is not only considered to be sexy but also good for your health, great for your figure and brilliant for your overall mental well being.
So what are the top 10 most beautiful dance forms that you can learn? Here goes our list:
This lively, high energy dance form is traditional to Iberia. The couple dance involves dancers who quickly tap their feet to the music and change positions with the beat. It is one of the main dance forms of Portugal. The dancers, usually two men or a man and a woman, and very rarely two women, face each other and tap and drag their feet, changing their positions and clapping their hands too to create a rhythm. This dance form is traditionally accompanied by guitar music and lyrics with octosyllabic verses.
Considered the national dance of Ukraine and also called Gopak or Cossack dance, this dance form incorporates some brilliant acrobatic moves. This is a dance form that requires a lot of energy, characterized as it is by jumping, spinning, skipping and squatting. The name hopak, in fact, is derived from hopaty which means jump. It is choreographed in a way which makes it seem like it is improvised on the spot, and so the music rhythm and pace also changes from segment to segment. Today, it is usually performed at the end of important ceremonies by professional or amateur dance troupes and also incorporated in operas. Fun fact: Russian dictator Stalin, in a very famous incident, once made his political rival and eventual successor Nikita Khrushchev dance to the hopak!
This beautiful dance form is characterized by fluid movements that make full use of the entire dance floor space. It is usually performed to live music with a big band. The origins of foxtrot are hazy, although many believe that the dance form owes its name of actor Harry Fox. Developed in the 1910s, it is a fairly recent form of dance which peaked in popularity in the 1930s. “Rock Around the Clock” by Billy Haley and His Comets is considered to be one of the best selling foxtrot albums of all time. Because of its beautiful and fast paced moves, it remains one of the most popular dance forms today, although there now exists a variation between the slow and the fast forms, known as foxtrot and quickstep respectively.
7. Belly Dance
Popularized by Shakira shaking her hips in popular culture, belly dance is a dance form that originated in the Middle East. It is also called Raqs Baladi. It is a dance form which involves not just the belly, but every other part of the body. A torso-driven dance, it concentrates more on the hip movement, leading to its name. Most of us have an image of belly dancers as wearing a fitted top with a flowy skirt or harem pants, a costume that is traditionally known as a bedlah. In cultures where showing the stomach is taboo, a full dress is usually worn. A lot of cultures also encourage the use of a belt on the hip to emphasize the dance moves. The health benefits of this universally acknowledged as super-sexy dance form? It is great for your spine and for building upper body strength.
This is a dance form that originated during the Mughal era and has seen a recent re-rise in popularity thanks to Bollywood rediscovering it. Who amongst us, after all, has not watched starry eyed a beautiful Rekha dance to ‘dil cheez kya hai’ in Umrao Jaan or Madhuri Dixit captivate us with ‘maar dala’ in Devdas? This form of dance was developed by courtesans or tawaifs and performed in kothas for the entertainment of nobility and wealthy patron of the court. It incorporated elements of kathak, setting it to the music of ghazals in Urdu or thumris. After the uprising of 1857 which lead to the closure of many kothas, mujra as a dance form saw a decline in popularity, with many tawaifs looking to other avenues of livelihood.
This one is a personal favourite. Flamenco is a traditional Spanish folk dance of the region of Andalusia. This dance form is high in intensity and accompanied by foot tapping to create rhythm, handclaps, guitar playing and voice recitals (cante) . The word flamenco itself is derived from flame or fire, and fittingly so, for this high voltage dance form is known for its expressive, passionate and seductive moves. Flamenco became extremely popular during the 19th century and continues to be danced to and taught all over the world. Bollywood too, has made use of this form in the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, where the protagonists travel to Spain. The costume worn during performance is usually a frilly, voluminous, long dress in bright colours. Fun fact: there are more academies and schools to teach flamenco in Japan than in Spain.
Performed in a closed formation traditionally with a couple, the waltz is a smooth dance. It became very popular in Vienna in the 1780s, from where it spread to other countries. There is therefore a category of this ballroom dance called Viennese Waltz, which is a fast waltz. In the 19th century, the word waltz implied turning, which suggested that the dancers turned and revolved around a spot rather than moving forward. Due to the proximity of the dancing couple, it was considered to be a shocking dance when it was first introduced. Today, many different types of waltzes are popular, depending upon which country they developed in, including American waltz, Peruvian waltz, International Standard waltz etc. In international standard waltz and Cajun waltz, the couple never break their embrace, which is not necessarily the case in other forms.
Tango originated in Rio dela Plata, near Argentina and Uruguay, from where it became very popular in other nations as well. It is influenced by both European and African cultures, and has a vast variety of styles. The formation is usually an open or close embrace. Depending on what variety of tango it is, the steps can either be quick and small or long, elegant, sweeping movements. Considered to be one of the sexiest dance forms ever, the tango dance health benefits are no less. It has been suggested that regular dancing to this rhythmic dance makes you more relaxed and focussed. Popular varieties of tango include ballroom tango, Argentine tango, queer tango and Finnish tango. In 2009 it was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. It is also considered to be very difficult to master.
2. Break Dance
Also called b-boying, this is a street dance that originated in the black neighbourhoods of New York in the 1970s, making it one of the most recently developed forms on this list. It consists of four types of primary movements- toprock, downrock, power moves, and freezes. It is danced usually to hip hop, break beats or fast paced funky music. It is an extremely visual dance that allows for a lot of expression. Dance steps are quick, acrobatic and require a lot of energy. Some movements are taken from martial art forms and gymnastics, making sure that the dancer has great speed and endurance abilities. Battle of the Year (BOTY) in Germany is the biggest break dancing competition in the world. It is usually performed by men, although participation of females has increased in recent years.
Ballet is definitely one of the most visually pleasing dance forms ever. It originated in Italy during the Renaissance and owes it popularity to France, where it later developed into a concert dance. The ballet is a very technical dance that requires extreme discipline. The position of the feet is very important, and the dance is best known for a step where the dancer stands on her toes. Classical ballet is usually performed classical music and elaborate stage settings. Contemporary ballet combines the energy of modern dance with the grace of classical ballet.