Dance is a performing art form consisting of purposefully selected sequences of human movement. This movement has aesthetic and symbolic value, and is acknowledged as dance by performers and observers within a particular culture. Dance can be categorized and described by its choreography, by its repertoire of movements, or by its historical period or place of origin.
An important distinction is to be drawn between the contexts of theatrical and participatory dance, although these two categories are not always completely separate; both may have special functions, whether social, ceremonial, competitive, erotic, martial, or sacred/liturgical. Other forms of human movement are sometimes said to have a dance-like quality, including martial arts, gymnastics, cheer-leading, figure skating, synchronized swimming, marching bands, and many other forms of athletics.
Performance and Participation:
Members of an American jazz dance company perform a formal group routine in a concert dance setting
Theatrical dance, also called performance or concert dance, is intended primarily as a spectacle, usually a performance upon a stage by virtuoso dancers. It often tells a story, perhaps using mime, costume and scenery, or else it may simply interpret the musical accompaniment, which is often specially composed. Examples are western ballet and modern dance, Classical Indian dance and Chinese and Japanese song and dance dramas. Most classical forms are centered upon dance alone, but performance dance may also appear in opera and other forms of musical theater.
Participatory dance, on the other hand, whether it be a folk dance, a social dance, a group dance such as a line, circle, chain or square dance, or a partner dance such as is common in western Western ballroom dancing, is undertaken primarily for a common purpose, such as social interaction or exercise, of participants rather than onlookers. Such dance seldom has any narrative. A group dance and a corps de ballet, a social partner dance and a pas de deux, differ profoundly. Even a solo dance may be undertaken solely for the satisfaction of the dancer. Participatory dancers often all employ the same movements and steps but, for example, in the rave culture of electronic dance music, vast crowds may engage in free dance, uncoordinated with those around them. On the other hand, some cultures lay down strict rules as to the particular dances in which, for example, men, women and children may or must participate.
An amateur dance-sport competition, featuring the Viennese Waltz
A dance competition is an organized event in which contestants perform dances before a judge or judges for awards, and in some cases, monetary prizes. There are several major types of dance competitions, distinguished primarily by the style or styles of dances performed. Major types of dance competitions include:
Competitive dance, in which a variety of theater dance styles, such as acro, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, and tap, are permitted.
Open competitions, that permit a wide variety of dance styles. An example of this is the TV program So You Think You Can Dance.
Dance-sport, which is focused exclusively on ballroom and Latin dance. Examples of this are TV programs Dancing with the Stars and Strictly Come Dancing.
Single-style competitions, such as; highland dance, dance team, and Irish dance, that only permit a single dance style.
In addition, there are numerous dance competitions shows presented on television and other mass media.