What is modern dance?
Modern dance (often referred to as contemporary or lyrical, but we will go into more detail about that below) is a genre of dance that was introduced in the early 1900s. Modern dance came along in part as a rebellion against the traditional, more highly technical forms of dance such as ballet, and has since become one of the dominant genres for formally trained dancers throughout the world. Modern dancers strive to connect the mind and the body through fluid dance movements while focusing on spontaneity and self-expression.
So, what makes something modern dance? Where is the line drawn between modern, contemporary, and lyrical?
Modern dance is a term that describes many types of dance techniques. It is a category of dance styles, often referred to as a genre of dance. Many of the main styles in this genre are credited to specific choreographers who pioneered new and unique ways of moving and created new movement vocabularies based on their personal philosophies: their views of how dance functions as an artistic tool.
Contemporary dance usually means that it has been created recently, and is performed to contemporary music. This style of dance is all about versatility and improvisation while focusing on emotional and physical expression. This style of dance is a fusion of jazz, ballet, and modern styles.
Lyrical dance is most often performed to songs with lyrics and is all about smooth, fluid movement and expression of emotions. The music can be of a wide range of genres, as long as it is emotionally charged and expressive, and the lyrics/nature of the music used will serve as inspiration for choreography. This style of dance is a fusion of jazz and ballet styles.
The Benefits of Modern Dance:
Creative Thinking - The impact that artistic training in general, and modern dance training specifically, can have on a student’s life is often grossly underestimated. Whether your student plans to become a professional dancer, an attorney, a teacher, or a mechanical engineer, they’ll have a distinct advantage over competitors. In study after study, employers list creative thinking as one of the employable skills they want most, and the total of a candidate’s employable skill set weighs as heavily in their hiring decisions as job-specific skills, training, and experience.
Stress Reduction - Modern dance classes contribute to healthier kids today and better-balanced adults in the future by teaching students to access their emotions and translate them into physical motion. Both physical exercise and introspection help to alleviate stress, and even on days when students come to class feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders, they’ll leave class in a more positive mood, less prone to anxiety and depression. The endorphins produced as a result of a dance class will give the student a sense of peace, well-being, and optimism.
Self-Expression - Not only does modern dance training teach students how to access their emotions and give them physical conditioning and training to express them, but it also gives them a sense of empowerment. Creatively rendering emotion and thought into physical movement gives students a kind of unique “voice” with which to express themselves, so they can find ways to express themselves, even when words aren’t sufficient. This can be especially helpful for shy students or students with learning disabilities and builds confidence in students who might otherwise feel invisible and unheard.
Written by Sara Embler, Assistant Office Manager & Marketing Coordinator
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Alaska Dance Theatre is a nonprofit school of dance serving Alaskans since 1980. Voted #1 Dance School in Anchorage by Anchorage Press readers.
Variety of dance styles available. Dancers of all ages, levels are welcome!
Registration is open. Reserve your spot:
Call 907.277.9591, 2:30pm to 8:30pm, Monday through Thursday; and, 11am to 4pm on Friday and Saturday.
We look forward to seeing you at Alaska Dance Theatre!