The Beginner’s Guide to Dance

While there are many different forms of dance, each dance genre is known for its own set of skills, music, and style. At Progressive Dance Studio, we encourage all our new dance students beginning their dance journey to take several dance classes to get an overview of the different types of dance styles before choosing one to specialize in as they get older.

Progressive Dance Studio is committed to fostering the love of dance and the performing arts in our students and that starts by focusing on developing each student’s individual talents, self-confidence and self-esteem in a safe, non-competitive environment.  Although we offer a wide variety of dance and other performing art classes, below is a brief overview of the most popular dance styles that PDS focuses on to educate the beginning dancer.

We offer all new students the opportunity to sign-up for a Free Trial Classes and find the classes best for them.


Ballet is considered to be the foundation of all dance. The fundamentals used in ballet are often used throughout all other dance styles. Ballet is best known in the form of classical, but can also include neoclassical and contemporary ballet. The Ballet style of dance is used to tell a story that relies heavily on precise technique and requires discipline and dedication to perfect. Ballet is a graceful and precise art form that is spoken in French. 

Students will learn terminology in French, correct body alignment, how to improve their natural turn-out and develop a love for the most graceful living art.  Each ballet class begins with a ballet barre, moves to a center floor adage, petite and grand allegro, and concludes with a formal grand reverence. Ballet is typically danced to classical music and is done wearing slippers or pointe shoes.  Ballet shoes are usually worn until the dancer’s feet have developed enough strength to progress into pointe shoes, which usually occurs between the ages of 11-12 depending on their muscular and skeletal development, and their dedication to practice.


Featured Ballet Performance

“Cinderella is one of my favorite ballets to introduce children to because they can clearly understand the story and then be inspired to dance.” – Jolene Perry


Contemporary dance is a style of expressive dance that combines elements of many dance genres, including Modern, Jazz, Hip Hop Lyrical and Classical Ballet. Contemporary dancers endeavor to connect their mind and the body through fluid dance movements.  Students will learn to use their bodies in a variety of ways through unique movements.  Contemporary dance often allows the dancer creative freedom and can be danced to a variety of different music. 

Our Contemporary classes teach a variety of styles, including a fusion of Horton, Graham, Limon, etc. Contemporary Dance forms allow students to explore their individual dance style outside of the structure of traditional ballet and jazz classes. Contemporary dance is typically done barefoot and there is a heavy emphasis on strongly controlled legwork. Defined by changes in musicality and emotion-driven performances, Contemporary Dance has become one of the most prominent dance genres.

Featured Contemporary Performance

This is a renowned contemporary dance piece by Alvin Ailey. What is especially appealing about this piece is the diversity of movement and the emotional content.


Jazz is also one of the most popular styles of dance and is very fun and energetic. It is typically paired with upbeat music such as show tunes, pop music, and jazz music.  Jazz dancers often have more freedom to express their own individual personalities through their dance performances. Jazz pulls from all dance styles to create a high energy style that is enjoyed by many. 

PDS Jazz class focuses on learning proper dance techniques such as isolations of the body and developing complex rhythms and patterns. Jazz class starts with a warm-up, then moves to practice combinations for technique across the floor and ends with a combination (a short dance).   Our Jazz class offers a wide range of styles and interpretations from funk to street Jazz to Broadway styles. Jazz shoes are worn for this style and are typically a leather split sole allowing the dancers foot more freedom to bend and move.

Featured Jazz Performance

“This is a great example of a classical jazz dance performance. The movements are tight and clean and it’s an entertaining piece!” – Jolene Perry


Tap dance can best be described as “musical feet” and is probably best known for the type of shoes the dancers’ wear.  Tap dance is the only form of dance that incorporates sound and it is the rhythmic tapping that makes the performer, not just a dancer, but a percussive musician.  Tap shoes are specially designed with metal plates on the bottom of the shoe and heel called taps. Tap is great for fostering rhythm in dancers. 

There are many different styles of tap, however, with the two most noted are Rhythm Tap and Broadway Tap. Rhythm Tap is more musically driven, whereas Broadway Tap is more stylistic incorporates upper body placement. PDS tap classes help develop rhythm, style and sound and students will learn both Broadway and Rhythm Tap.  Our tap classes emphasize developing proper tap technique, producing clear tap sounds and having fun!

Featured Tap Performance

“Savion Glover is one of the best tappers performing today. In this video Savion shows how Tap dancers are percussionists as well as dancers.” – Jolene Perry


Hip-Hop is a style of dance that evolved from hip-hop culture and is typically danced to hip hop, urban, and rap music. Breakdancing is the most well-known type of Hip-Hop dance, but other styles include krumping, popping, and locking. Hip-Hop dance is edgy, very energetic, and intense.  

Hip-Hop is probably the most different from all the other dance forms and gives the dancer freedom of movement and expression within their routine, which allows the dancer to incorporate their own personalities. Progressive Dance Studio students are encouraged to step outside the box by bringing their own individual style and personality to the movements. Hip-Hop dancers will have fun as they learn combinations to popular and high-energy music!  High-top sneakers, funky bright sneakers, and traditional Hip-Hop Shoes are normally worn by Hip-Hop dancers. What sets Hip-Hop dance apart from most dance genres is that although you learn hip hop vocabulary and technique, there is a freestyle element that is incorporated.

Featured Hip-Hop Performance

This Hip-Hop performance video is a favorite of Synergy Dance Company Director, Erin Mallon.

Our 2019-2020 Dance Class sessions begin on September 9th. Come into the studio, meet our instructors and take a free trial class. 

Would You Like to Take a Free Trial Class?


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