Dance Disciplines taught at JCDC
What is Classical Ballet?
Classical ballet is any of the traditional, formal styles of ballet that exclusively employ classical ballet technique. It is known for its aesthetics and rigorous technique (such as pointe work, turnout of the legs, and high extensions), its flowing, precise movements, and its ethereal qualities.
There are stylistic variations related to an area or origin, which are denoted by classifications such as Russian ballet, French ballet, British ballet and Italian ballet. For example, Russian ballet features high extensions and dynamic turns, whereas Italian ballet tends to be more grounded, with a focus on fast, intricate footwork. Many of the stylistic variations are associated with specific training methods, that have been named after their originators. Despite these variations, the performance and vocabulary of classical ballet, are largely consistent throughout the world.
Ballet technique is the foundational principles of body movement and form used in ballet. A distinctive feature of ballet technique is turnout, which is the outward rotation of the legs and feet emanating from the hip.
There are five fundamental positions of the feet in ballet, all performed with turnout and named numerically as first through fifth positions. When performing jumps and leaps, classical ballet dancers strive to exhibit ballon, the appearance of briefly floating in the air. Pointe technique is the part of ballet technique that concerns pointe work, in which a ballet dancer supports all body weight on the tips of fully extended feet on specially designed and handcrafted pointe shoes. In professional companies, the shoes are made to fit the dancers' feet perfectly.
Students typically learn ballet terminology and the pronunciation, meaning, and precise body form and movement associated with each term. Emphasis is placed on developing flexibility and strengthening the legs, feet, and body core (the centre, or abdominals) as a strong core is essential for turns and many other ballet movements. Dancers also learn to use their spot which teaches them to focus on something while turning so as not to become dizzy and lose their balance.
After learning basic ballet technique and developing sufficient strength and flexibility, female dancers begin to learn pointe technique and male and female dancers begin to learn partnering and more advanced jumps and turns. Depending on the teacher and training system, students may progress through various stages or levels of training as their skills advance.
There are several standardised, widespread, classical ballet training systems, each designed to produce a unique aesthetic quality from its students. Some systems are named after their creators; these are typically called methods or schools. For example, two prevailing systems from Russia are the Vaganova method (created by Agrippina Vaganova) and the Legal Method (by Nikolai Legat). The Cecchetti method is named after Italian dancer Enrico Cecchetti. Another training system was developed by and named after August Bournonville; this is taught primarily in Denmark. The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) method was not created by an individual, but by a group of notable ballet professionals. Despite their associations with geographically named ballet styles, many of these training methods are used worldwide. For example, the RAD teaching method is used in more than 70 countries.
Here at JCDC we pride ourselves on teaching the Cecchetti method as well as BDTA.
Before classical ballet developed, ballet was in a period referred to as the Romantic era. Romantic ballet was known for its storytelling, and often held a softer aesthetic. Classical ballet came to be when a ballet master by the name of Marius Petipa (who is considered to be one of the greatest choreographers of all time) took Romantic ballet and combined it with different aspects of Russian ballet technique (as Petipa was once a choreographer and ballet master at Mariinsky Ballet). Elements pulled from these things include the storytelling found in Romantic ballet, and the athleticism of Russian technique. Therefore, a new era of ballet, which later became known as the classical era, began. Even though he was responsible for bringing in the classical ballet era, Petipa was also responsible for choreographing well-known romantic ballets such as Giselle and The Sleeping Beauty (ballet).
During the classical era, Marius Petipa was largely responsible for creating choreographic structures that are still used in ballets today. For one, Petipa was the first to use the grand pas de deux in his choreography. Additionally, he cemented the usage of the corps de ballet as a standard part of a ballet. Despite his ushering in of the classical era, these elements can be seen in his romantic ballets as well.
What is Pointe work?
Pointe work is performed while wearing pointe shoes, which employ structural reinforcing to distribute the dancer's weight load throughout the foot, thus reducing the load on the toes enough to enable the dancer to support all body weight on fully vertical feet. Although both men and women are capable of pointe work, it is most often performed by women. Extensive training and practice are required to develop the strength and technique needed for pointe work.Typically, dance teachers consider factors such as age, experience, strength and alignment when deciding whether to allow a dancer to begin pointe work.
What is Repertoire?
Ballet repertoire is the term used to describe any dance or part of a dance, that is taken outside of the ballet, in which it exists. When you see a dancer performing a solo, a pas de deux, or a group dance, and it is from a larger ballet (for example Swan Lake), it is classed as ballet repertoire.
Modern Theatre Dance
What is Modern/Jazz Dance?
Modern dance is a broad genre of western concert or theatrical dance which included dance styles such as ballet, folk, ethnic, religious, and social dancing; and primarily arose out of Europe and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was considered to have been developed as a rejection of, or rebellion against, classical ballet, and also a way to express social concerns like socioeconomic and cultural factors.
Jazz dance is a performance dance & style, that in the United States, arose in the mid 20th Century. Jazz Dance may allude to vernacular Jazz of to Broadway or dramatic Jazz. The 2 types explain on African-American vernacular styles of Dance that arose with Jazz music. Vernacular Jazz Dance incorporates ragtime moves, Charleston, Lindy hop and Mambo. Popular Jazz Dance performers include The Whitman Sisters, Florence Mills, Ethel Waters, Al & Leon, Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, Dawn Hampton and Katherine Dunham. Dramatic Jazz Dance performed on the show stage was often promoted by Jack Cole, Bob Fosse, Eugene Louis Faccuito, & Gus Giordano.
The term 'jazz dance' has been used in ways that have little or nothing to do with jazz music. Since the 1940s, Hollywood movies and Broadway shows have used the term to describe the choreographies of Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins. In the 1990s, colleges and universities applied to the term to classes offered by physical education departments in which students dance to various forms of pop music, rarely jazz.
What is Commercial Dance?
Commercial Dance is the main source of career opportunities for professional dancers and includes: Dance for the stage (such as Cruise Lines, Industrials, Broadway Shows, Theme Parks, Resorts, Vegas, etc.) Dance for films (both feature and short formats), music videos, and television (TV shows and commercials).
Commercial is a dance style that takes from many other dance disciplines, such as, Jazz, Street, Modern & Hip Hop. This dance genre is a combination of self expression, energy & performance.
Commercial has its roots in hip-hop dance, which was the dancing aspect, of the culture that emerged in the 1970s. TV shows such as Soul Train and later Breakin', Beat Style and Wild Style in the 1980s, saw that hip-hop dance become something that everyone was aware of, even if they couldn't do it themselves.
The term is also used as an exonym and umbrella term for various street dance styles either performed to hip-hop music or that have become associated with hip-hop culture. It includes a wide range of styles created in the 1970s and made popular by dance crews in the United States. The television show Soul Train and the 1980s films, Breakin', Beat Street and Wild Style, showcased these crews and dance styles in their early stages. It gave these styles, and hip-hop national exposure.
The dance industry responded with a commercial, studio-based version of hip-hop, sometimes called "new style", and a hip-hop influenced style of jazz dance called, "jazz-funk". Classically trained dancers developed these studio styles in order to create choreography from the hip-hop dances that were performed on the street. Because of this development, hip-hop dance is practiced in both dance studios and outdoor spaces. The commercialisation of hip-hop dance continued into the 1990s and 2000s with the production of several television shows and movies, such as, The Grind, Planet B-Boy, Rize, StreetDance 3D, America's Best Dance Crew, Saigon Electric, the Step Up film series, and The LXD, a web series. Additional dance styles were developed during this time such as the Memphis jookin, turfing, jerkin', and krump.
This being said, just like with Contemporary Dance, due to such freedom in movement, when performing Commercial, we at JCDC don’t tend to have set levels for each age group. The students start Commercial around age 12-13 at a Beginners level, then age 13-14 would be a Foundation level, ages 14-15 at an Intermediate level & then finally ages 15-16+ at an Advanced level. Each level progressing in performance, skill set, complexity, artistry & technique.
What is Tap Dance?
Tap Dance is a type of dance characterised by using the sounds of metal taps affixed to the heel and toe of shoes striking the floor as a form of percussion. As well as this, Tap Dance is coupled with both characteristic and interpretative body movements. Its roots were originally seen in minstrel shows, and it gained prominence in vaudeville, which quickly emerged into an art form and means of expression.
What is Contemporary Dance?
Contemporary dance is a genre of dance performance that developed during the mid-twentieth century and has since grown to become one of the dominant genres for formally trained dancers throughout the world, with particularly strong popularity in the U.S. and Europe. Although originally informed by and borrowing from classical, modern, and jazz-styles, it has come to incorporate elements from many styles of dance. Due to its technical similarities, it is often perceived to be closely related to modern dance, ballet, and other classical concert dance styles.
In terms of the focus of its technique, contemporary dance tends to combine the strong but controlled legwork of ballet with modern that stresses on torso. It also employs contract-release, floor work, fall and recovery, and improvisation characteristics of modern dance. Unpredictable changes in rhythm, speed, and direction are often used, as well. Additionally, contemporary dance sometimes incorporates elements of non-western dance cultures, such as elements from African dance including bent knees, or movements from the Japanese contemporary dance, Butoh.
Contemporary dance draws on both classical ballet and modern dance, whereas postmodern dance was a direct and opposite response to modern dance. Merce Cunningham is considered to be the first choreographer to "develop an independent attitude towards modern dance" and defy the ideas that were established by it. In 1944 Cunningham accompanied his dance with music by John Cage, who observed that Cunningham's dance "no longer relies on linear elements, nor does it rely on a movement towards and away from climax. As in abstract painting, it is assumed that an element (a movement, a sound, a change of light) is in and of itself expressive; what it communicates is in large part determined by the observer themselves." Cunningham formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1953 and went on to create more than one hundred and fifty works for the company, many of which have been performed internationally by ballet and modern dance companies.
What is Spanish Dance?
For almost as long as man has existed he has used dance as a form of communication and personal expression. Spain is certainly no exception. Ritualistic dances commemorating battles and other war-related themes were the first to appear, and centuries later during the Middle Ages, structured religious-themed ritual dances were recognisable.
The 15th century saw the distinction created between the various genres. Serious and measured dances quickly grew outdated while the popularity of the happier and free-moving dances surged exponentially. With the Renaissance, popular and folk dance continued to make huge strides in the history of Spanish dance and even gained recognition internationally. These regional dances both flourished on their own and melded with other dances to birth brand new ones. You can imagine how many- at one point, there were over 200 traditional dances in the region of Catalonia alone.
During the Baroque period, gypsies arrived to the Iberian continent and the growing popularity of the gypsy music and dance, flamenco, eagerly formed part of the history of Spanish dance. The rest is history- or rather Spanish dance history- as flamenco has since become both a national and international sensation. With feisty flamenco's ever-rising fame, regional dances suffered a decline- a decline which intensified during the 20th century, when the dictator Francisco Franco actually banned all things regional, including dance, music, and languages. Luckily today there has once again been a boost in the pride and the practice of traditional dances, and the history of Spanish dance continues!
Traditional Spanish Dances
This typical dance hails from the north of Spain, namely Aragón, and features a fast tempo as couples dance with their hands raised high above their heads playing castanets.
Several couples join hands and dance in a closed circle in this traditional dance from Catalonia.
Danced in twos or alone along to the music of bagpipes, this traditional "Miller's Dance" is typical throughout Galicia and Asturias.
The zambra began as a Moorish dance, but with monarchs Fernando and Isabel's reconquista of Spain, the Moors were able to conserve the dance by adapting it to Spanish dance customs.
One of the oldest and most traditional dances of the history of Spanish dance, the bolero is a quick Spanish dance boasting sudden pauses and sharp turns.
At one point the most famous dance of Spain, the fandango is a lively, happy Spanish danced in two's.
A quick one-step Spanish dance.
A passionate dance hailing from gypsies, flamenco is internationally famous.
Lively and joyous dance typical of Seville and reminiscent of flamenco that features four distinct parts.