Is lyrical dance the same as contemporary? What do you wear to something that is a perfect blend of ballet and jazz but holds its own? Is lyrical dance form based on the lyrics of a song? If lyrical has caught your fascination, then read on...
A perfect medley of ballet, modern and jazz dance techniques, many wonder what lyrical dance form is all about. Is it yet another contemporary dance form, is it danced to lyrics and is there any technique associated with it at all?
Lyrical dance gained its name from the word lyrical, which means to have a poetic and expressive quality; Lyrical could refer to arts, literature or music and expressing imaginatively and beautifully. The dance is set to music that enables expressing natural and deep personal emotions; it is highly rhapsodic or enthusiastic. The dance form uses songs that have lyrics that allow the dancer to portray the feelings required and are evocative.
Lyrical dance has been an evolving form, and received much attention from various television dance competition shows in recent years. The origins of the Lyrical dance are difficult to pinpoint and seems to have been an organic development out of the entertainment world, where dancers began to mix jazz with ballet. Performances in shows like Cirque du Soliel and the general acceptability of this dance form has helped in its growth.
Lyrical dance is expressive; it could be subtle or dynamic and is a combination of intricate, highly technical, and pedestrian/naturalistic moves. Lyrical dance is often choreographed to songs about freedom or releasing emotions, such as ecstasy, grief, or jubilation over overcoming obstacles, etc. however it can be choreographed to any human emotion-related song.
In a lyrical performance, the chosen song and appropriate choreography set the pace and determines the movements; a lyrical piece may or may not be graceful, but will always be expressive and unpredictable, particularly in comparison to ballet and other jazz pieces which may have a more presentation quality.
While the dance form does not concentrate on the dancer's precision of movement, dancers who take lyrical are enrolled in ballet or jazz technique class. Dancers need to have an in-depth knowledge of the more technical ballet, and jazz dance forms as lyrical is an advanced style of dance requiring proper placement and body alignment.
The lyrical choreography is often peppered with intentionally pedestrian moves, amid the more challenging movements, to create a simultaneously organic and dramatic feel. Although the technique is crucial, the routines are based around feeling and emotion with the spirit of the music generally dictating where the dance will go.
Movements in Lyrical Dance are Unique
Nearly constant continuation of movement characterizes lyrical dancing. Movements are choreographed to flow very naturally and seamlessly into the other, with virtually no pauses, stops and or still moments holding finishing steps as long as possible.
Sharp movements such as contractions or spiking with limbs are sometimes choreographed in to emphasize certain parts of the dance, but usually, the movements are flowing, "carving" and "arcing" and merging into each other.
There is an immense amount of grace and fluidity in the lyrical dance form; dancers move magically from one move to another, almost seamlessly it seems. The dance form covers a significant amount of space during one's dance with the leaps being high and soaring and turns fluid and continuous. Often, the upper body movements resemble traditional African dance forms.
There is no one set type of movements in the lyrical dance form as the focus and beauty are on how one individual interprets the music and song.
Why Lyrical Has Become So Popular
Lyrical has soared in popularity and mass appeal, and one of the main reasons is because of the ability of the audience to relate to the emotion of the dancer and the choreography. This dance form gives the dancer the perfect tool to communicate with an audience in turn.
Coming to another equally important factor - Lyrical dancing focuses on the expressiveness of the dancer, and there is less focus on getting precision and more on individual style. Since it is less rigorous as far as technique is concerned, Lyrical enables more people - people with different body types, diverse experience, and different ages to explore AND enjoy a dance form.
The Lyrical form can be a progression for older dancers (who are no longer able to quite jeté as they used to) find they can still draw on their technique and combine it with the maturity of expression to create and perform fantastic pieces of lyrical dancing.
Lyrical dancing is used as an introduction for very young children as they begin their dance training because moving so clearly to the music instils a sense of enjoyment, which then carries over into the more strenuous drills and exercises of ballet.
Wildly successful and favourite shows such as the Cirque Du Soleil and the TV show 'So You Think You Can Dance' have featured dancers showcasing lyrical dancing. This has helped the dance form, impressive leaps, turns, acrobatics et al. to make it more popular. Audiences also get to enjoy this dance form in live shows of contemporary music artists, such as Celine Dion.
Dancewear for a Lyrical Dance Class
For a lyrical dance class, teachers need to be able to see body alignment and hence fitted dancewear is a must. Dance pants, Capri pants, shorts, and a bodysuit are great options for bottom wear. Tights are excellent too, (cut below the knees, rolled up, or footless. And for upper wear, you could opt for crop tops, tank tops, half-top or leotards. These options are any day better than a sports bra and sweatpants and show that you are prepared and ready to take a class seriously.
For recitals and competitions, costumes are styled in a way that will capture your dancers' movement, enhancing their ability to tell a story. Lyrical costume collections offer dresses which have intricate lace, various skirt lengths, and beautiful applique details.
You are welcome to be in bare feet or wear Dance Paws that are available at local dance stores. Shoes such as these Capezio Adult Pedini Femme Teaching/Lyrical/Modern Shoe are perfect for recitals and competitions
Hair should always be in styles that are away from the face.
Music for the Lyrical Dance
Music for this style may consist of many genres including pop, rock, and hip-hop. Lyrical dance is challenging for choreographers and dancers to interpret the music.
Whether you're choreographing a quick combination for class or you're putting together your next competition piece, a song can set the mood of the whole piece. Keeping in mind that lyrical dances are emotional and expressive, the melody and the lyrics have to inspire the choreography and dance moves.
Songs with lyrics are considered the best music for lyrical dance as the lyrics act as an inspiration to not just the choreographer but also aid the dancer in emoting expressively with his movements. Music for lyrical dance can come from any genre - pop, rock, jazz, soul, blues, hip-hop, or world music, however, the songs are emotional—about love, yearning, sadness, loneliness, and joy!
Is Lyrical and Contemporary Dance the Same Thing?
The genres of lyrical and contemporary dance can be incredibly confusing because of their similarities, but the answer is No, and here are a few reasons how -
Contemporary dance dates back to the 1950s when avant-garde choreographers like Merce Cunningham, Isadora Duncan, and Ruth St. Denis were making pieces that broke away from the strict rules of ballet. Mainstream Contemporary dance as we see it today showcases the body's natural lines and energy, as allows dancers to bring out their versatility and athleticism.
Contemporary style differs from lyrical dance as it can be danced to virtually any type of music, whether it's Mozart or Lady Gaga. The movement itself is highly musical and often characterized by body isolation's, pedestrian gestures, and geometric shapes. You will recognize many balletic techniques in contemporary dance, as well as modern and postmodern elements.
Lyrical dance is a competition-style form that developed out of ballet and jazz dance forms. It is used for competition pieces, to display both physical ability and an emotional element as well. The most distinguishing factor is that lyrical dance seeks to connect and entertain through a clear story-line while using elements of ballet and jazz technique. The movement style differs from contemporary in that it is fluid, sweeping, and graceful — an excellent lyrical dancer will make the routine look like one, continuous piece of movement. Notable dancers and choreographers in the lyrical dance world include Suzi Taylor, Tracie Stan-field, and Brian Friedman.
I will end by saying that everyone can learn to dance lyrical, but a slow and adequate educational process of coordination, body, and skills is necessary. I strongly recommend ballet to you, but search hard to find one that caters exactly to your level of abilities and knowledge. Ballet is a powerful method to develop dancing skills, but if done improperly it is highly counterproductive. Jazz and other types of dance can also help you a lot in your learning process if they fit your personality.
What do you love the best about the lyrical dance form? Is it the emoting and being able to bond with the audience or the utterly gorgeous flowing costumes that tell a tale of their own? Drop us a note here.