Hi, recently I decided to start taking dance classes again. I’ve been researching a few different styles and really have my heart set on contemporary or lyrical. But just to make sure, what are the differences between the two?
Also, do you think I have enough experience to join one or the other? I’m a little heavier compared to other girls, so I hope that doesn’t make a big difference. I took ballet and tap dancing for about two years when I was really little, hip hop for a year and jazz dance for two years during elementary school, and I took Chinese dance for about 4-5 years total until I recently quit(Chinese dance was part of my Chinese school, and it was more relaxed). Would I need more experience to start learning contemporary or lyrical? My dance teachers have told me I’m a quick learner, but I’m not sure if it was a true compliment or just something nice to say. I’m also pretty flexible based on my experiences in dance.
So, what are the differences between contemporary and lyrical dance? Do you think I’d be able to take a class in one of them, and which one do you think would be best?
Lyrical dance is a literal representation of the music using a combination of ballet and jazz with a little bit of modern thrown in for good measure. It is usually performed in foot undies and tends to be romantic and emotional in approach. There is no "lyrical technique". You use your ballet technique to dance emotionally to the lyrics of a song. Lyrical dance exists only in competition dance and in recital studios.
Contemporary dance has no technique of it’s own and relies on both Ballet and codified modern technique. It is the choreography that makes a dance contemporary. Contemporary dance can be done en pointe , barefoot, in socks or anything else the choreographer can come up with. Often professional concert contemporary dance is abstract and devoid of any emotion at all but just simple line and movement. In contemporary dance, the choreographer is the only "star". Any type of music, noise or even no music or sound at all can be used. I think it is best to give some examples of Contemporary dance as the best way to describe it. I will try to give you a mix of styles. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-H3kD6trvY
If you are in a school that offers lyrical dance most likely the contemporary dance wont be real contemporary dance like the examples I gave. Many recreational schools use those terms interchangeably. Or, the lyrical will just be more balletic than what they call their contemporary.
In a competition/recital school, contemporary is very different. They have sort of a lyrical version with lots of "emoting", floor work and acrobatic tricks. That is the only place you will find specific "contemporary classes".
Professional contemporary dancers take modern & ballet classes along with contemporary workshops from cutting edge contemporary choreographers so they can learn their specific dance vocabulary. Often concert contemporary dance is abstract and devoid of any emotion at all but just simple line and movement.
*EDIT: Any good recreational dance school will require strong ballet technique before taking either lyrical or contemporary dance. A so-so school may only require you to take ballet along with lyrical or contemporary dance. A poor school will let you take either with no ballet. I suggest you start with a beginner ballet class before you take either genre.