Since I recently became director of the lyrical/contemporary department, I thought I would focus my thoughts on what those genres entail. While there are many similarities between the two styles of dance, there are also differences that are not always recognized. With lyrical, just as the word says, a dancer uses music to portray a story through dance. Lyrical however, doesn’t always include lyrics in the music. The key is that the dance has a deeper meaning, and the dancer takes on the role of an actor/actress to illustrate a story through movement. Lyrical is typically very fluid and controlled, and it requires technique from both ballet and jazz.
Contemporary dance is a genre that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Since it is much newer, it is harder to define. In this genre, dancers use their bodies to portray emotions in whatever form that may be. Contemporary dance training emphasizes improvisation where a dancer simply turns on the music and lets his/her emotions come out through dance without prior thought. While lyrical is more fluid, contemporary can be more intense, high-energy, and intricate. Just like lyrical, contemporary requires a solid technical foundation from ballet and/or jazz, and may also include technique from modern. Two well-known choreographers whom I feel truly demonstrate the contemporary style are Jaci Royal and Tessandra Chavez. Both of these amazing choreographers created pieces for the popular TV show So You Think You Can Dance. If you are interested in learning more about this style, their work is a great representation of contemporary.
This last weekend, many of our DAU students had the opportunity to take classes from some of the best lyrical and contemporary teachers around: the previously mentioned Jaci Royal, as well as Bonnie Story and Mitchel Federan. Mitchel also came to work with some of our dancers in their DAUPC Technique class this Monday. After talking to many of our dancers, the most popular response to these classes was “inspired.” Lyrical and contemporary classes have the ability to be an outlet for a dancer and offer chances to create emotional experiences associated to the moves. I love these classes because they really cause a dancer to step out of their comfort zones and push themselves to grow technically, creatively, and emotionally.