Classifying social dance is a complex activity, involving a lot of interpretation. The first thing to be clear is that there is no official classification. We are trying to provide a basis on which dancing might be classified.
There are several classification structures. There’s probably no one way to categorize social dance so I will attempt to describe some of the main classes, but the main point of classification is that dancing has to be danced with a certain energy and a certain intention. Each class usually has a different kind of dance and a different kind of structure. One might also be able to describe an activity as being either ‘dancing’ or ‘contemplative’ since both these are different words in many different ways.
Classifications can also be applied to different regions of the world, with different nationalities. In other words, classifications can apply to cultures and to peoples. Also, dance has its own social meanings, for many countries in the world different classes of dance may be used. For the most part, dancing classes or styles are more than a collection of dances, but they belong to a larger class.
Some dance forms have their own distinct characteristics and style. For instance a traditional dance might be called ‘sangria’, a more modern style might be called ‘chicana’, and a more recent style might be called ‘samba’. In this way dancers develop a relationship with each of these types of dance style, and this relationship is reflected in their social dance.
So what do we do when we are describing dancing? The first step is to describe the dance. Sometimes this is expressed with words, in other cases with phrases, in an expression from the dance or a metaphor related to the dance. We call this dance a ‘dance’ in formal definitions, and we talk about a dancing performance or dance with ‘dance style’.
When we discuss dancing we must use terms that are clear, precise and useful, and we should respect other people’s experience of dancing. We should recognise a dancer as a dancer when she or he is doing a dance and a dancer as a dancer when she or he is expressing dance by moving. So please try not to misuse the terms that we describe. For this we depend on the dances themselves, where this is often difficult, but we try our best to respect people’s personal experience and dance traditions.
To describe dancing with these terms we often use words like:
The act or practice when a person
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