Fifty years ago, most people would have said that they had never even heard of a dance style called contemporary ballet. As far as they were concerned, ballet dance meant watching ballerinas float around on the stage in pointe shoes and circular, net tutus. A charming prince would dance with the ballerina in classical stories such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, or Swan Lake with the stereotyped ballerinas in their snow white costumes.
So, what is the difference between contemporary and classical ballet?
Classical ballet is dance form that uses strict movements, repetitive steps and five basic positions, and dancers perform either solo or in a group. It also has the following characteristics:
• Requires rigid movements, perfect posture, and an upright, posed body
• Accompanied by classical music
• Beautifully choreographed movements that are performed to orchestra music
• Sleek, classic tutus and tights as costumes
• Female dancers perform on pointe
• Pointe shoes or leather/canvas ballet shoes are worn
• Tells a story through a combination of movement and music
• May stir the emotions of the audience
Contemporary ballet has its roots in both classical ballet and modern dance forms. In contemporary ballet, the audience is able to observe a sampling of all of the dance styles at once. Here are the similarities/differences:
• Uses the technique and body movements of dancers who are trained in classical ballet
• Total freedom of movement without being bound to classic steps
• Dance steps are choreographed according to moods and feelings
• Dances may perform barefooted or in leather ballet or jazz shoes
• Random steps may be made up on the spot
• Usually performed in bare feet without pointe shoes
• No repetitive or structured steps
• A variety of music is used – popular, techno or any style
• Dances may be performed without music – spoken word, special effect sounds, or no sounds at all
• The force of gravity is used in leaps and jumps, and dancers may roll and fall on the floor
IS CONTEMPORARY DANCE FOR EVERYBODY?
In the past, it seems most dance lovers have had a preference for either classical or contemporary ballet, but not both. However, with the popularity of dance TV shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars, people are being exposed to contemporary ballet without really knowing what it is. It is a progressive dance form that is being recognized and appreciated. Dancing schools are offering dance classes Toronto in contemporary ballet to young dancers as well as to those who have trained for many years.
With opportunities to perform in recitals, competitions, and community events, contemporary ballet has recently become one of the most popular dance styles for everyone to enjoy.