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Similarities between Ballet and Hip Hop

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Updated: Oct 29th, 2019


Dance is and always shall be a form of expression where the movements performed speak volumes of the emotions and feelings that the dancer is trying to impart to the audience. The unique aspect of dance is that it is not limited to an assigned constraint or form but rather adapts to the type of music that is being played which as a result has created a myriad of different dance forms reflecting the plethora of available music in the world today.

What must be understood though is that just as different versions music must convey different messages so to do different forms of dance portray different feelings and emotions. In order to better understand this concept an examination of contrasts is needed to clarify just how different yet similar certain styles of dancing are to each other. To this end Hip hop and ballet have been chosen due to the obvious differences in their manner of conveying emotion and eliciting reactions from various audiences.

It is actually a rare sight for audiences of either form of expression to interact and even rarer still to see them within the same area however this is precisely why both styles of dance were chosen, for it is in their contrasts that make them dissimilar that the obviousness of their similarity comes to light.

It is based on this that this paper assumes that despite their inherent differences in style both hip hop and ballet contain similar attributes when it comes to precision movements and their ability to tell the story of a song through movement and body rhythm.

What must first be understood is that despite the assumptions of this paper, hip hop and ballet are still inherently different styles of dance. When a person performs ballet their body follows a certain flow, moves delicately in precise accordance with the music with strict adherence to form and style. Hip hop on the other hand has no particularly distinct style, in fact the basis of this particular form of dance is in improvisation where dancers develop dance moves and patterns as they see fit.

If ballet is a soft form of dancing involving delicateness, hip hop is a hard form of expression employing explosive movements. It is on this basis that this paper will elaborate on the basis of the forms and styles utilized in both types of dance and will break down just how similar and different both particular methods of dance are to each other.


Emotion, pure unadulterated emotion and expression, this is basis of the style of ballet, every bodily movement, every graceful step, leap and raised limb, all of this is done to convey some form of message to the audience. While many may assume that the ballerina merely dances along with a song it must be understood that the song itself is merely complimentary, what must be observed is how the movements flow, if they are meant to portray lust, sadness or demurity.

It must be noted that the human body is in fact capable of multiple types of bodily expression all of which can be interpreted in any manner ways. Ballet takes advantage of this by utilizing body language as a means of telling a story without words. The songs, backgrounds and costumes all contribute to building up the story however it is the ballet dancer that is the true story teller.

On the other hand ballet is also done to impress, precise movements, breathtaking rhythm and timing as well as slight acrobatics are all done in order to entertain the audience. In reality ballet is not only a form of expression but also a form of entertainment that is meant to draw in crowds for a profit. Comparatively Hip hop is also based on sheer raw emotion; its movements though convey the baser aspects of emotion such as anger, the need for freedom and recklessness however they convey emotions none the less.

Just as ballet is precise in its movements and rhythm so too is Hip hop, one present day example of this can be seen in the Step Up movie series where Hip hop dancers move together under the same rhythm, express themselves through their dancing and let the music compliment what they do instead of their dancing complimenting the music. Similar to ballet Hip hop performances are also meant to impress and entertain audiences during various events to also make a profit.


The inherent difference between the two styles lies solely with the fact that one advocates absolute conformity while the other encourages improvisation and redefinition, this of course refers to ballet and Hip hop respectively. What must first be understood is that the each form of dance developed under a different type of culture. In the culture of Hip hop redefinition, recreation, and improvisation are at the heart of this dance style due to fact that that imitation is highly frowned upon in Hip hop culture.

For them, originality and uniqueness defined the utilization of styles with each performance actually being slightly or even divergently different than what came before. This is done in the name of ensuring that particular dance numbers are done in way where they always seem original, that they are not reliant on imitation and that they are the sole creation of those who dance them.

Ballet on the other hand is all about conformity, performances done on one night must be the same as the next night and the night after that. For classical ballet dancing it is not all about improvisation and creativity rather it is the development of talent to its zenith through sheer repetitive action. The development of perfect form, perfect grace and perfect steps, to give the perfect performance over and over again is what ballet strives to do.

While there are certain improvisations done, these are relatively minor when compared to manner in which the style seems to keep repeating itself. In this repetition a ballet dancer can develop himself/herself into a figure of absolute grace and beauty. While Hip hop can be considered constant surprise and innovation ballet is considered the achievement of the absolute zenith in grace and fluidity.


Based on the findings of this paper it can be seen that while Hip hop and ballet may have inherent differences in the intent and focus of their various dance movements the fact remains that they are still inherently similar in their desire to express and entertain.

While it is still not quite clearly understood, precision and coordinated movements that can be seen in both ballet and Hip hop apparently have a similar appeal to the human senses. Perhaps it is in the body language, movement styles or sheer rhythm, regardless both styles of dance are the same in their ability to entertain and impart a message through their movements.

This ability is distinctly different as compared to ballroom dancing since there does not seem to be any message that ballroom dancing is trying to impart to an audience and in fact rather than the song complimenting the dancer, in this case it is the dancer that is complimenting the song.

This is why ballet and Hip hop are so similar, they are able to convey messages other forms of dance cannot; they alone can use their bodies to weave stories, elicit strong responses, cause excitement and tension and most important of all entertain audiences beyond mere body movements and knee jerking.

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"Similarities between Ballet and Hip Hop." IvyPanda, 29 Oct. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/comparison-of-hip-hop-dancing-and-ballet/.

1. IvyPanda. "Similarities between Ballet and Hip Hop." October 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/comparison-of-hip-hop-dancing-and-ballet/.


IvyPanda. "Similarities between Ballet and Hip Hop." October 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/comparison-of-hip-hop-dancing-and-ballet/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Similarities between Ballet and Hip Hop." October 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/comparison-of-hip-hop-dancing-and-ballet/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Similarities between Ballet and Hip Hop'. 29 October.

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