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  1. 1. Is Lyrical a Valid Dance Form?
  2. 2. Lyrical DanceWhat is the definition?Where did it originate?Why is it looked down upon in certain dance arenas?Should it not be classified in the same domain as Ballet or Modern?
  3. 3. When we talk of lyrical dance, most people who are familiar with dance think of a category of that is offered at the local private studio. It is alsothought of as a category in dance competitions. Most of us in the dance world have come in contact with lyrical dance at some point in ourcareers. But when we are asked to define lyrical dance, we are at a loss. We are at more of a loss when the question of its origin andlegitimacy is presented. What is the definition of lyrical? Where did it originate? Phyllis Balagna-Demoret, owner of Steppinʼ Out dance studio,believes it started around 20 years ago when teachers started choreographing ballet to Top 40 music because traditional ballet to classicalmusic was not doing well on the competition stage. So with the incorporation of popular music the movement quality started to use morepopular vernacular movement jazz movement. The beginnings of jazz.Some other possible influences are:One of the first times the word ʻlyricalʼ is used is in a type of ancient Egyptian dance, classified by Irena Lexova in her book Ancient EgyptianDances. These dances are probably not truly related to the lyrical dance known today, but more than likely had expressive and harmoniousmovement qualities, the same pursuant qualities of todayʼs lyrical dance.
  4. 4. The Definition of Lyrical Dance is...There is no definition. Lyrical has not been archived in an acedemic space. Where as existing on a prosceium stage usually ensures thearchiving of a Western dance forms origin. Even though lyrical closely resembles vernacular or a marginalized dance form, scholars have notset out to archive lyricals history. There is not a scholarly defintion however some information about lyrical pops up in dance industrymagazines and websites. We can always find a Lyrical dance on youtube as well as on TV SYTYCD. In an article by Wendy Garofoli “TheLyrical Debate “ lyrical is “a hybrid of jazz and ballet, with a little bit of modern thrown in for good measure”
  5. 5. Beginnings of Jazz Dance Jazz Music Syncopation European Harmonies Tap African Rhythms Ballet American Gospel Singing Social dance Traditional Cultural Dance Where did it originate? Some possible influences are:One of the first times the word ʻlyricalʼ is used is to describe an ancient Egyptian dance, classified by Irena Lexova in her book AncientEgyptian Dances. These dances are probably not truly related to the lyrical dance known today, but more than likely had expressive andharmonious movement qualities, the same pursuant qualities of todayʼs lyrical dance.Lyrical dance is known for the blend of jazz and ballet. Lyrical could have evolved from lyrical jazz.Jazz dance started as a vernacular dance form demonstrated expressiveness of movement to popular music, jazz music. Syncopation,European harmonies, African rhythms and American gospel singing inspired this style of music and dance (Alford 10). The movement qualitiesof jazz dance evolved from its earliest influence of tap dancing, which is also derived from African and European influences. Other elementscrucial to the birth of jazz dance are ballet, social dance, and other forms of traditional cultural dance.
  6. 6. Luigi Gus Giordano Jack ColeJazz dance usually seems to take the direction of popular entertainment.(Marcus Alford, Jazz Danceology: Teaching and Choreographing JazzDance).important transformations that allowed it to move forward on the Broadway stage.Jack Cole is known as the Father of jazz dance. He blended East Indian dance with popular music in the early to mid 20th century1936, George Balanchine with assistance of black rhythm tapper Herbie Harper choreographed Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. “This blend ofballet and tap created a new style of theatrical dance” (Lihls 68). Agnes de Mille choreographed the “Dream Ballet” in 1943 for the musicalOklahoma!.“The addition of ballet has extended the theatrical dance vocabulary by adding movements such as leaps, multiple turns and lyricalstyle contrasts” Another important person in the development of lyrical dance is jazz dance innovator, Luigi. He is known for developing anelementally safe, lyrical jazz movement style and technique. The Luigi style combines modern dance, ballet and traditional jazz dance.Gus Giordanoʼs explanation of jazz dance, “Jazz dance is a dynamic, ever-changing dance genre, always open to snapping up newmovement ideas and soaking up the latest cultural styles” (Alford 8). The development of different jazz dance classifications, including: lyricaljazz, Broadway jazz, street jazz, and contemporary jazz is an example of Mr. Giordanoʼs description of how jazz evolves, combines andmorphs with other styles into different branches of jazz.
  7. 7. Dance Genres Coalesced 1. the blending of theatrical forms such as ballet, jazz, tap, and modern dance 2. the blending of theatrical with social and ethnic forms, sports and even circus 3. the blending of dance with other media such as film, computer graphics and the spoken wordleitmotif /the dominant of reoccurring theme of jazz dance is its blending of dance genresIn the book Appreciating Dance, the author, Lihls comments on the most recent trends in theatrical and concert dance, which are a meshing ofballet, modern, tap and jazz. She states that, “…there are three trends that began in the mid-twentieth century that will probably continue: 1.the blending of theatrical forms such as ballet, jazz, tap and modern dance; 2. the blending of theatrical with social and ethnic forms, sportsand even circus; 3. the blending of dance with other media such as film, computer graphics and the spoken word-…” (85-86). The combiningof dance genres is the action that produces lyrical and contemporary dance style and content. There should be no questioning that lyricaldance exists but as a valid dance style it tends to be a subcategory of the culmination of already established, codified, and valid dance forms.If its ingredients are authentic, and its communication goal is expressivity to the audience, it would seem to substantiate its worth.
  8. 8. Struggles of Lyrical danceIt is no wonder that lyrical dance has struggled with its identity as a valid and respected dance form because it is derived from jazz. Jazz,although more respected now, has also struggled in the hierarchy of dance classification. It is difficult to stand up to 400 years of balletʼsestablished discipline and codification. (Alford and Cohen 5) Jazz dance is new; lyrical dance is even more recent. Jazz dance has had only arelatively short time to develop a codification and systematic syllabus of its own, to establish its validity and function. Lyrical dance will need topersist in a quest for finding its own methodology to establish its validity as well. As with jazz dance, lyrical dance will have to fight for itsvalidation and to continue affirming its legitimacy in the dance world. Another reason lyrical dance has been excluded as a ʻdance artʼ is because of its presence in the competition dance organizationcircuit. What has been regarded as competition lyrical dance has sometimes been categorized as superficial. The reason for this label is thatcompetition dance is not regarded as art and the choreography can be more focused on ʻtricksʼ rather than dance. Competition dance hasbeen associated with extreme dance skills, circus tricks and the act of competing turns the art of dance into a sport. Sometimes the lyricaldancer is too young. Lyrical dance needs a performer with intermediate to advanced technical dance skills and to have ʻlivedʼ life experiences.Usually a dancer older than 14 years of age can accommodate the requirements to fully execute lyrical dance choreography. In an interviewwith Debbie Roberts, National Director of Showstoppers, an American dance competition organization, she confirms that lyrical dance hasbeen a category in Showstoppers since its beginning, 32 years ago.
  9. 9. onclusion C Not a dance form Style Sub category of Jazz Competition dance practice American dance practiceLyrical dance is a style of dance because it is based on a culmination of many different dance forms. Lyrical dance is jazz that evolves and coalesceswith traditional, longer established dance disciplines such as ballet and modern. The lyrical dancer needs to excel in all the dance forms involved inlyrical dance. It has integrated itself into a multi- and socio-cultural domain, allowing for deeply felt expressiveness and communication throughsoulful, harmonious movement. The merging of jazz with these other forms of dance contributes to the existance of lyrical being a multi-dimensional,ever-transforming genre that is able to integrate itself into many different entertainment forums. But will it be able to establish itself as a valid danceform? Or should we think of it as Alexis Weisbrod states “Lyrical as a competition dance practice, as well as an American dance practice, embodieselements of 21st American culture.
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