Dance Genres and Styles

These are some of the dance genres and styles we offer. Not all of them are available all the time or for all age groups and some classes contain mixed genres or styles. This list is also not all we can or will offer.


Jazz Dance is a vibrant and energetic form of movement that fuses elements of African, Caribbean, and European dance styles. It emerged in the early 20th century and is known for its syncopated rhythms, improvisation, and expressive nature. Jazz Dance encompasses a wide range of styles, from the smooth and sensual movements of lyrical jazz to the fast-paced and intricate footwork of jazz funk. It emphasizes individuality, versatility, and musicality, often incorporating isolations, leaps, turns, and syncopated body movements. Jazz Dance celebrates freedom of expression, storytelling, and the connection between music and movement, making it a dynamic and captivating art form.


Tap dance is a rhythmic and percussive form of dance characterized by the striking of metal plates on the dancer’s shoes against a hard surface. Originating from African and Irish dance traditions, tap dance evolved in America in the early 20th century. It emphasizes intricate footwork, syncopation, and improvisation. Tap dancers create rhythmic patterns and melodies with their feet, often accompanied by music. With its unique blend of athleticism, musicality, and creativity, tap dance showcases the dancer’s ability to create complex rhythms and express themselves through sound. It is a lively and engaging art form that continues to captivate audiences worldwide.

There are various styles of tap dance from a grounded to a poised elegant look. Theatrical Jazz and also Vernacular Jazz dance is usually included in tap dance.


Modern dance is a genre of dance that emerged as a rebellion against the rigid structure and conventions of classical ballet. It originated in the early 20th century and is characterized by its focus on freedom of movement, expressiveness, and individuality. Modern dance embraces a wide range of techniques, styles, and philosophies, allowing dancers to explore their own creativity and unique movement vocabulary. It often incorporates elements of improvisation, floor work, and the use of gravity. Modern dance encourages dancers to connect with their emotions, explore new ways of moving, and challenge traditional notions of dance. It is a dynamic and ever-evolving art form that celebrates innovation, self-expression, and the power of movement.

Modern dance encompasses a range of techniques and styles that have developed over time. Some of the prominent techniques and approaches within modern dance include:

1. Graham Technique: Developed by Martha Graham, it emphasizes the use of breath, contraction and release, and the exploration of emotional and psychological expression through movement.

2. Horton Technique: Created by Lester Horton, it focuses on the use of anatomical alignment, strength, and dynamic movement, incorporating elements of modern jazz and diverse cultural influences.

3. Limón Technique: Founded by José Limón, it emphasizes the use of natural breath, weight, fall and recovery, and the exploration of dynamics and musicality in movement.

4. Cunningham Technique: Developed by Merce Cunningham, it emphasizes pure movement for movement’s sake, often incorporating chance procedures and non-hierarchical structures.

5. Release Technique: Explores the concept of releasing tension and effort in the body to promote fluidity, efficiency, and organic movement.

6. Improvisation: Encourages spontaneous movement exploration, the development of personal movement vocabulary, and the integration of individual creativity within choreography.

These techniques, among others, offer different approaches to movement, alignment, expression, and artistic exploration within the realm of modern dance.

Horton Technique

The Horton Technique, developed by Lester Horton, is a modern dance technique known for its focus on strength, flexibility, and dynamic movement. It incorporates elements of Native American dance, Afro-Caribbean influences, and diverse cultural traditions. The technique emphasizes anatomical alignment, groundedness, and the use of the core to initiate movement. Horton Technique trains the body to achieve a wide range of movement qualities, from fluid and lyrical to sharp and percussive. It employs codified exercises and a series of fortifications to build strength, coordination, and spatial awareness. With its emphasis on individual expression and cultural diversity, the Horton Technique offers dancers a powerful and versatile approach to movement and self-discovery.

The Horton Technique encompasses several key elements and principles that contribute to its unique approach to dance and movement. Here are some of the main components:

1. Fortifications: These are a series of exercises that focus on building strength, flexibility, and control in specific areas of the body. They include exercises for the feet, legs, arms, and core, among others.

2. Lateral Torsion: Horton Technique emphasizes the use of spiraling and twisting movements to create dynamic and fluid motion. Lateral torsion refers to the rotation and spiraling of the spine and limbs.

3. Flatbacks: Flatbacks are a signature element of Horton Technique. They involve forward bending from the waist while maintaining a flat back, engaging the core and promoting spinal flexibility.

4. Contraction and Release: Horton Technique incorporates the use of contractions, which involve pulling the body inward, and releases, which allow for expansion and extension. This helps to create a sense of dynamic opposition and energy in the movement.

5. Fortified Positions: These are specific static positions that focus on strength, alignment, and balance. Examples include the “L-shape,” “T-shape,” and “A-shape” positions.

6. Sequential Breath: The Horton Technique emphasizes the connection between breath and movement. Dancers learn to synchronize specific movements with inhalations and exhalations to enhance control and expressiveness.

7. Projection and Focus: Horton Technique encourages dancers to project their energy outward and to engage their focus and intention in their movement. This helps to convey emotion and communicate with the audience.

These elements, along with a strong emphasis on technique, musicality, and individual expression, contribute to the comprehensive and distinctive nature of the Horton Technique.

Graham Technique

The Graham Technique, developed by modern dance pioneer Martha Graham, is a renowned approach to movement that revolutionized the art form. It is characterized by its deep emotional and psychological expression, as well as its emphasis on the inherent power of the body. The technique focuses on the use of breath, contraction and release, and the exploration of weight and gravity. It employs a distinctive vocabulary of movements, including spirals, hinges, and falls, to convey a range of emotions and narratives. The Graham Technique aims to uncover the essence of human experience through intense physicality, dynamic shapes, and a profound connection to the core. It continues to inspire dancers worldwide with its transformative and evocative qualities.

The Graham Technique consists of several fundamental elements and principles that contribute to its unique approach to dance and movement. Here are some key components of the technique:

1. Contraction and Release: This is a central concept in the Graham Technique. Dancers explore the use of muscular tension and relaxation to convey emotions and create dynamic movements. Contraction involves a pulling inward and tightening of the body, while release allows for a sense of expansion and release of energy.

2. Spirals and Twists: The technique incorporates spiraling movements of the torso, limbs, and spine. Dancers explore the range of spirals, twists, and undulations to create expressive and fluid motion.

3. Floor Work: Graham Technique often includes floor work, where dancers explore movements and shapes while grounded on the floor. This aspect emphasizes the connection to gravity and the earth, and allows for exploration of weight, strength, and fluidity.

4. Breath: The technique emphasizes the use of breath as a source of power, expression, and connection to movement. Dancers learn to synchronize breath with movement, allowing for a deeper embodiment and emotional expression.

5. Contraction and Release-based Exercises: The Graham Technique includes specific exercises designed to develop strength, control, and alignment. These exercises focus on developing the core, flexibility, and control of movement.

6. Use of Dynamic Shape and Gesture: Graham Technique often incorporates distinctive shapes and gestures that convey specific emotions and storytelling. These shapes may include contractions, spirals, lunges, and expansive movements.

7. Dramatic Expression: The Graham Technique encourages dancers to explore intense emotional expression through movement. It aims to convey a range of human experiences, from passion and joy to struggle and despair.

These elements, along with the use of weight, momentum, and the exploration of the body’s expressive possibilities, make the Graham Technique a powerful and influential approach to dance and performance.

Elementary Vaganova Technique

Mark’s Dance School includes basica Vaganova Technique in all modern / contemporary dance classes.

The Vaganova technique, named after its creator Agrippina Vaganova, is a renowned ballet technique that emerged from the Russian ballet tradition. It is characterized by its focus on precise and clean lines, strong technique, and expressive artistry. The technique emphasizes a harmonious blend of strength, flexibility, and musicality. It incorporates a systematic training methodology, with a progressive curriculum and precise placement of the body. The Vaganova technique emphasizes a fluid use of the arms, refined footwork, and a dynamic use of épaulement (positioning of the shoulders and head). It aims to develop well-rounded dancers capable of performing with technical excellence and artistic expression.

The Vaganova technique, developed by Agrippina Vaganova, is a comprehensive ballet training method that consists of several key elements and principles. Here are some components of the Vaganova technique:

1. Placement and Alignment: The technique focuses on precise body alignment, emphasizing proper placement of the head, shoulders, hips, and feet. This promotes balance, stability, and aesthetic lines.

2. Turnout: Vaganova technique places great importance on achieving and maintaining a proper turnout of the legs from the hips. It involves strengthening and conditioning exercises to develop and sustain a well-aligned turnout position.

3. Port de Bras: Vaganova technique emphasizes the use of graceful and expressive arm movements. It employs a specific codified system of arm positions and pathways that enhance the overall balletic quality.

4. Graduated Syllabus: The technique follows a carefully designed syllabus that progresses from simple to complex movements and combinations. It includes exercises at the barre, center work, and allegro (jumping) sequences.

5. Musicality: Vaganova technique places a strong emphasis on musicality and the integration of movement with the music. Dancers are trained to interpret and respond to the rhythm, phrasing, and dynamics of the music.

6. Dynamic Turns and Jumps: The technique emphasizes the development of strong and controlled turns (pirouettes) and jumps (such as grand allegro). It focuses on achieving precision, height, and lightness in these movements.

7. Character and Artistry: Vaganova technique incorporates character dance, providing training in traditional folk dances that enriches the dancers’ versatility and expressive range.

These elements, along with a focus on strength, flexibility, coordination, and artistry, contribute to the comprehensive and rigorous nature of the Vaganova technique, producing technically proficient and expressive ballet dancers.


Theatrical Jazz

Theatrical Jazz dance is a dynamic and expressive form of dance that blends elements of jazz technique with theatrical storytelling. It combines the high-energy movements of jazz with the narrative and character-driven aspects of theater. The choreography in Theatrical Jazz often incorporates intricate footwork, syncopated rhythms, isolations, and stylized gestures to convey emotions and tell a story. It encompasses a wide range of styles, from Broadway-inspired jazz to contemporary theatrical dance. Theatrical Jazz dancers often embody characters, portray narratives, and utilize props, costumes, and stage design to enhance the overall theatrical experience. It is a captivating and engaging form of dance that brings together the best of jazz technique and theatricality.

Theatrical Jazz dance entails a combination of jazz technique and theatrical elements, creating a distinct style that incorporates storytelling, character development, and performance skills. Here are some key components that Theatrical Jazz dance may entail:

1. Jazz Technique: The foundation of Theatrical Jazz is rooted in jazz dance technique, including elements such as isolations, syncopated rhythms, dynamic movement, and stylized footwork.

2. Character Portrayal: Theatrical Jazz often involves embodying characters and personas to convey narratives and emotions. Dancers explore acting techniques and expressive gestures to bring the story to life.

3. Storytelling and Narrative: The choreography in Theatrical Jazz is designed to tell a story or convey a specific theme. It may involve structured narratives, pantomime, or abstract storytelling through movement.

4. Theatrical Elements: Theatrical Jazz integrates various theatrical elements such as props, costumes, sets, and lighting to enhance the overall performance and create a theatrical atmosphere on stage.

5. Musicality and Interpretation: Dancers in Theatrical Jazz focus on interpreting the music and lyrics to enhance their performance. They incorporate musicality, dynamics, and expression to create a captivating and engaging experience.

6. Stage Presence and Performance Skills: Theatrical Jazz emphasizes the development of stage presence, projection, confidence, and connection with the audience. Dancers work on performance skills to captivate and entertain the viewers.

7. Choreographic Variety: Theatrical Jazz offers a wide range of choreographic styles, including Broadway-inspired routines, lyrical storytelling, contemporary fusion, and more. This allows for creative exploration and versatility in performance.

Theatrical Jazz dance encompasses a fusion of dance technique, acting skills, storytelling, and theatrical elements, resulting in vibrant and captivating performances that bring narratives and characters to life on stage.

Bob Fosse Style and Technique

Bob Fosse was a renowned choreographer who specialized in jazz and musical theater dance. He was known for his distinctive style, characterized by sharp and precise movements, isolations, angularity, and a unique use of hats, gloves, and props. Fosse’s choreography combined elements of jazz, vaudeville, and burlesque, creating a signature aesthetic that blended sensuality, wit, and theatricality. He choreographed iconic musicals such as “Chicago,” “Cabaret,” and “Sweet Charity,” leaving a lasting impact on the world of dance and musical theater. Fosse’s work continues to be celebrated for its sophistication, precision, and ability to convey storytelling through movement.

Afro Styles House

Afro-style house dance, also known as Afro House or Afro House Dance, is a vibrant and energetic dance form that blends elements of traditional African dance, house dance, and various urban styles. It originated in the late 20th century and has its roots in the house music and club culture of Africa and the African diaspora. Afro-style house dance embraces the rhythmic and musical influences of African and Afro-Latin music genres, incorporating movements that are rooted in African dance traditions, such as polyrhythmic footwork, isolations, and dynamic body movements. It combines fluidity, groove, and individual expression, often emphasizing freedom of movement, improvisation, and connection to the music. Afro-style house dance celebrates the cultural heritage and contemporary creativity of African and Afro-diasporic communities.

Hip Hop Dance

Hip hop dance is a dynamic and expressive dance style that originated within the hip hop culture in the 1970s in the Bronx, New York. It encompasses a wide range of urban dance styles, including breaking (breakdancing), popping, locking, krumping, and more. Hip hop dance is characterized by its emphasis on rhythm, musicality, improvisation, and individuality. It reflects the cultural influences, social commentary, and self-expression of the hip hop movement.

The terms “old school” and “new school” are used to distinguish between different eras or styles within hip hop dance:

1. Old School: Old school hip hop dance refers to the early years of hip hop, roughly from the 1970s to the early 1990s. It includes the foundational elements of breaking, popping, locking, and other early styles. Old school hip hop dance often had a raw and improvisational feel, focusing on creative and innovative movements.

2. New School: New school hip hop dance emerged in the 1990s and continues to evolve today. It incorporates influences from various dance styles, such as jazz, contemporary, and street dance. New school hip hop dance often involves more intricate choreography, technicality, and fusion with other dance forms. It may incorporate elements of acrobatics, intricate footwork, and diverse movements borrowed from different styles.

While both old school and new school hip hop dance share a foundation in the hip hop culture, they differ in terms of aesthetics, influences, and movement vocabulary. Old school is rooted in the early days of hip hop and showcases its foundational styles, while new school reflects the evolution and fusion of various dance forms within the hip hop genre.

Progressing Ballet Technique

Our modern dance classes also include some training with the Progressing Ballet Technique.

Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT) is a training method developed by Marie Walton-Mahon that focuses on improving ballet technique through targeted exercises and muscle activation. It aims to enhance dancers’ understanding of core stability, alignment, and muscle strength specific to ballet movements.

PBT utilizes various props, such as exercise balls, resistance bands, and Pilates balls, to assist and challenge dancers during their training. The exercises are designed to isolate and activate specific muscle groups involved in ballet technique, allowing dancers to develop strength, control, and body awareness.

PBT emphasizes the engagement of the deep stabilizing muscles, particularly the core, to support proper alignment and control in movement. It also promotes the development of strength in the legs, feet, and turnout.

By incorporating PBT into their training, dancers can enhance their technique, improve balance, develop a stronger sense of muscular control, and gain a deeper understanding of their bodies’ biomechanics and alignment. It can be a valuable supplemental method for dancers looking to refine their ballet technique and achieve greater precision and stability in their movements.