Though pretty much everyone would know what you mean if you asked them if they wanted to dance, the term itself is actually a pretty broad label for an activity that has so many styles and differing meanings to different people that it is quite an ambiguous term to use by itself. The definition of the verb form of the word goes along the lines of ‘moving rhythmically or in time with music', though the variables involved are quite extensive. ‘Dance' as a sole term doesn't tell us anything about which kind of music that the rhythmical expressions of movement should be executed to, nor does it tell us the tempo of the dance, how many people it involves, and which style of movement will be followed. As most people are aware of, dancing, whether informal or formal, comes in quite a variety of styles as a result of geographical and cultural factors as well as socio-economic ones. This isn't a history of dance itself however; the aim here is merely to cover a few styles of dance with some brief information about them in order for you to decide whether that particular style is right for you.
Almost everyone on earth would at least be able to at least briefly describe the essence of ballet to one another. Its visual style is one of the most easily distinguishable of all of the types of dance in the world: extremely controlled and hugely strong dancers, both male and female, populate the stage and dance along to music in an extremely graceful and often-refined style. As with many dance styles (even Morris dancing), Ballet has its origins in the courtly setting, with 15th century renaissance courts serving as a venue for the dance's beginnings.
Ballet training is rigorous and at the very top level requires levels of discipline that very few people are capable. Classical ballet training schools such as the Royal Ballet School train the very best dancers and some of the very best ballet performances you will ever see come from the English National Ballet. It's safe to say that Ballet isn't for the casual weekend dancer or for those wishing to simply keep fit: it is almost a lifestyle within itself.
Much like the music that gives it its backing, Jazz Dance has its origins in America. Jazz Dance developed in the early 20th century. The dance style involves extremely energetic performances with body movements that can be described as anything from sensual to erratic. This style of dance shares the inclination of the music it shares a name with in that it can involve improvisation and creative expression of the individual. Jazz dances can involve the expression of the individual and performances can be highly dramatic. Several dance styles are considered to have branched off from Jazz dance including Swing and the Charleston. Groups such as Dancin' Unlimited and The Urban Jazz Dance Company are fine examples of the style being performed at its best.
Another dance style that incorporates a huge range of sub-genres, Latin dancing is one of the most popular styles on earth. It is particularly prominent in the world of exercise classes with many people attending weekly Latin dance group meetings in order to keep fit. The pace is almost invariable fast yet highly controlled and often quite sensual as the dance usually requires a partner for it to be performed with. Constant shifts of weight from one foot to the other results in frequent hip movement which may seem to some like an untoward gesture but there is no negative motivation behind this movement.
Latin dance sub-styles include Salsa, Merengue , Rhumba, and Samba. Salsa Intocable is a Los Angeles-based salsa dance company that demonstrate the unique style of the dance. Latin dances also feature heavily in Zumba, an exercise-dance fusion that has swept the fitness world
Folk dances are invariably tied to the customs and traditions of different social classes and often formed the central pillar of community meetings and gatherings. Morris Dancing and Irish Dancing are both types of folk dance. Instead of folk dances being up for wild interpretation from choreographers, the routines are often set in stone and have been passed down through generations, with each generation perhaps bringing something unique and adding variation to the routines, but with the core principles and moves involved in each type of dance being adhered to quite consistently. The Nottingham Folk Dance Group is a great example of a traditional folk dance collective.