Learning to Dance: Common Dances for Weddings and Events

By  Mac Molli
Updated on 03/12/24
Learning to Dance: Common Dances for Weddings and Events

Learning to Dance: Common Dances for Weddings and Events

By  Mac Molli
Updated on 03/12/24

Part of the

Learning to Dance: Common Dances for Weddings and Events

By  Mac Molli
Updated on 03/12/24

Dance is a timeless art form that brings joy, builds connections, and celebrates life’s special moments. Throughout history and across cultures, dance has marked rites of passage, told stories, and been central to rituals and gatherings. While some see dance as daunting to learn, it can be accessible for people of all ages and backgrounds, from kids pirouetting in tutus to brides and grooms taking dance lessons for their wedding. With a passion for self-expression and a desire to move to music, anyone can learn to dance in a way that is meaningful for them.

History of Dance

Dance has been woven into human cultures for millennia. Cave paintings depict dancing figures, hinting that prehistoric people used dance in spiritual rituals. Many of the classical dance forms we know today emerged under the royal courts of Europe and Asia during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. In African history, dance was integral to storytelling and community bonding. And 20th-century artists like Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham pioneered new creative movements and modern dance techniques. Dance continues evolving today while maintaining its timeless, universal appeal.


The graceful waltz rose to popularity in 19th-century Vienna. The waltz is characterized by its 3/4 time signature as couples travel counterclockwise around the dance floor. Waltzes create an elegant, dreamy mood at formal events.


Ballroom dancing originated in the late 19th century and includes partner dances like the foxtrot, tango, and waltz. Ballroom styles are elegant and expressive and may be performed competitively or socially. Ballroom dancing has a global appeal while retaining distinct elements from its European roots.


Emerging in the 1920s and 1930s, swing dance is characterized by its bouncy, energetic movements set to big band music. Originating in African American communities, swing dance styles like the Lindy Hop incorporated jazz, tap, and vernacular dance elements. Swing’s popularity soared, and it became a staple of American dance floors and popular culture.


The foxtrot is a smooth, progressive ballroom dance that developed in the early 1900s. It’s danced to big-band jazz at a slow, graceful pace and is popular at weddings and engagement parties. This dance remains popular today due to its versatility as a social and competitive dance and its elegant, swaying movements across the dance floor.

African Dance

African dances are as diverse as the countries and cultures of the continent itself. Ritual and celebratory dances play important roles in African ceremonies, storytelling, rites of passage, and communal gatherings. Styles like gumboot and Zulu dancing incorporate stomping, kicks, and rhythmic body slaps, while North African belly dancing features swirling hip movements. Most African dances are performed in groups to the beat of lively drumming.


Emerging from inner cities in the 1970s, hip-hop dance includes styles like breaking, popping, and locking. Hip-hop dancing is improvisational and often incorporates jazz, tap, and African dance elements. Performers dance solo or in groups, moving dynamically to the rhythms of hip-hop music. Hip-hop has become a global cultural phenomenon.

Native American Dances

Native American dances serve religious and social purposes for the indigenous tribes of North America. Each tribe has its own distinct dances that are used for many purposes, including depicting stories, giving thanks, calling for rain, healing illnesses, and honoring rites of passage. Dances may incorporate feathers, bells, drums, and traditional clothing. The communal and spiritual nature of Native American dance keeps cultural traditions alive.


Originating in Argentina and Uruguay, the dramatic tango is rooted in the fusion of African, European, and South American influences. Marked by its 2/4 time signature, this partner dance features sharp leg movements, dramatic pauses, and romantic, close embraces as couples traverse the dance floor. The passionate tango remains popular worldwide as both a stage and social dance.

Latin Dance

Latin dance encompasses styles like salsa, rumba, cha-cha, and merengue, originating in Latin America and the Caribbean. Upbeat and lively, Latin dances are performed with a partner or in groups. Latin dance preserves folkloric traditions while remaining modern and popular due to its fun, rhythmic, energetic movements that compel everyone to move.


Tap dance originated in the 19th century, blending African and Irish dance influences. Performers wear tap shoes with metal plates on the bottom to create percussive sounds through rhythmic footwork. Tap features improvisation and often mimics musical instruments. Famous for its appearance in Broadway musicals and films, tap dance celebrates the fusion of movement, music, and sound.


Classical ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts before being codified in France. Graceful and precise, ballet dancers tell stories through poised movements and expressive gestures. The ballet technique features five strict positions of the arms and feet and develops balance, flexibility, and strength.


A lively Latin dance, the rumba originated in Cuba as a blend of Spanish and African influences. Danced solo or with a partner, the rumba features expressive hip movements and rapid footwork. Percussive yet romantic and sometimes sad, the sensual rumba evokes raw emotion between dancers and onlookers.


Salsa emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, combining Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz and dance styles like mambo and rumba. Upbeat and lively, salsa is a partner dance full of spins, complicated footwork, and pulsating hip movements. Salsa continues to thrive with devoted local communities and competitions worldwide.

Belly Dancing

Belly dance originated centuries ago in the Middle East and North Africa, evolving from cultural and celebratory folk dances. Fluid hip and torso movements characterize this solo, improvisational dance. Today, belly dancing has surged in popularity worldwide because of its gracefulness and the core strength it develops.


Breakdancing emerged on the streets of the Bronx in the 1970s. Athletic and acrobatic breakdancing pioneered new styles that feature floor work, freezes, and power moves. Improvisational cipher battles, performed in the center of a circle of onlookers, are common. As an early pillar of hip-hop culture, breakdancing rejects rigid technique and values originality, community, and self-expression.