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A note from the Hip Hop Director - Ms. Jessalyn

Stand a ballerina and a break-dancer side by side and the differences are obvious, such as pointe shoes versus high tops. One might plié, while the other may isolate an arm like a robot. You may expect that one trained in a dance studio, while the other honed their craft in a club or on the street. On the popular TV show “So You Think You Can Dance,” they refer to this difference as “Stage v. Street.”

However, there may not be such a difference between “Stage” and “Street” after all. Dance is a performing art, so the performance aspect is common to all dancers – both Stage and Street. Many Street styles of dance are taught in studios, just like the traditional genres of Stage dance. In the studio setting, we often refer to these Street styles as “hip-hop dance.” They are often less defined than their Stage counterparts, as Street dance originated outside of the classroom. Street dance, then, can better be defined as referencing the dance style, rather than as a description of where the dancing takes place. Just like in Stage dance, Street dances often combine choreographed steps with improvisation.

When I think of the distinction between these two genres, I can’t help but envision Julia Stiles as she transforms from leotard-clad ballerina to hip-hop dancer in the movie Save the Last Dance. Iconic dance movies like this one – which are for many people the only window into the dance world – help highlight the differences between Stage and Street dance. Maybe this weekend would be a great time to watch a classic Stage or Street movie. Some of my other favorites are: Step Up, Stomp The Yard, and Center Stage.

Have a great week!

Ms. Jessalyn

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