Dance Training It takes about 8 to 10 years of training to become a dancer. Serious students attend classes daily. Students usually attend a major ballet school attached to a performing company. (i.e. new york) Ballet dancers begin their careers as young as 17 or 18, while modern dancers usually complete college majoring in modern dance before they begin dancing professionally. Once a dancer becomes a professional they still take class daily to stay in shape.
The ballet class Class is taught in a dance studio ( large empty room with mirrors on one wall and usually a wooden floor. Class begins with Barre( long wooden rail attached to the wall) then center work is done in the center of the room. Students wear leotards and tights with their hair pulled up in a bun. The terms for the steps are in french because ballet originated in france. Barreexcercises train the legs to remain in a turned out position.
The Modern Class Dancers usually wear leotards and footless tights in order to practice dancing barefoot. Class begins in the center of the room executing a number of exercises on the floor. They combine running lifting and falling movements. Modern techniques train the back and chest to bend, curve, twist and contract, while ballet keeps the back straight and the chest held high. The dancer uses gravity, while in ballet the dancer tries to defy gravity. The foot is pointed, flexed, curled, or relaxed and the leg is just as likely to turn out as in while in ballet the leg is always turned out and the foot is always pointed.
Modern Techniques Graham Technique Limon Technique Horton Technique
Graham Technique Named for Martha Graham, modern dance pioneer, known for angular, disjointed and highly expressive style using the contraction. She choreographed for 60 years.
Limon Technique Named for Jose Limon, a second generation modern dancer, who created powerfully dramatic works. His technique is more lyrical and flowing than Graham’s but still uses gravity and the feeling of weight along with the concept of “fall and recovery.”
Horton Technique Named for Lester Horton, who developed a highly energetic style often seen on the West Coast.
The Professional Dancer A full-time occupation that often leaves little time for family or recreational activities. Dancers audition to become members of a dance company which perform in its home city and then tour for a number of weeks per year. Dancers take daily class, then rehearse for up to 6 hours. Dancers often supplement their salaries by taking free-lance jobs when they are not performing.
The Dance Company A highly structured nonprofit organization run by a board of directors. Formed in conjunction with a major school which feeds dancers trained in the appropriate style into it. (The School of American Ballet trains dancers for the New York City Ballet.) Schools may form to fulfill the creative vision of one certain individual like those of Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey and Paul Taylor.
Dance Company Personnel Corps de Ballet – literally the body of the ballet; refers to the main group of dancers who are seen onstage in groups, not solos. Ballerina – female classical dancer in a leading role. Premier danseur – a male classical dancer in a leading role. Principal dancer – a leading dancer. Artistic director – person who guides the company in all artistic matters such as a choosing the repertoire, hiring dancers and choreographers, casting, and costume selection. Choreographer – person who creates the dances. Ballet master/ballet mistress – the person who teaches class to the company and also often rehearses the company in works set by the choreographer. Manager – person responsible for all the business aspects involved in running a company.
Elements of Dance Movement Space Structural Form
Movement Dance is movement used for expression and/or communication. Divided into 2 categories: axial and locomotor Axial – takes place in one spot around a central axis and includes stretching, bending, twisting, and curling. Locomotor- moves the dancer’s body through space and includes walking, running, hopping, jumping and leaping.
Space Concerns the position and dimension, an environment necessary for movement. Spacial design is the interrelationship of dancers to each other and to the space through which they are moving. Spacing is either: Symmetrical – having formal balance and even design; suggests a feeling of stability and security. asymmetrical – informal in design; not the same on each side of the stage; suggests action and change.
Structural Form All choreography should have structural form with a beginning, middle, and an end. Many Choreographers use musical structure to structure their dances using A (basic theme) and B (contrasting theme).
Textures in Dance The relationship of dancers and their movments to other dancers onstage at the time. The movements may be in: unison, opposition, succession, response.