The unspoken language that can convey people’s emotions and ideals throughout time and space is none other than dance to Connor Dealy and many others.
Dance is a vast concept. As Dealy, a theater performance major and dance minor, points out, dance can range from traditional folk dances to simply bobbing one’s head.
When it comes to performance style, the main one many think of is ballet. Within ballet, Jeri Dickey, a senior lecturer in the theatre department, said there are many different kinds, some being French, Cecchettii, Vaganova and the Royal Academy. She said these types mostly differ in their arm placement.
She also mentioned jazz, with one of many examples being Fosse jazz which was created by Bob Fosse. He made a whole new style of jazz just by expressing the way his odd body moved. One notable move from his style is jazz hands.
Adrienne Wilson, an associate professor of theatre in dance, said that tap can range, from musical theater tap, more experimental-based tap and jazz-based tap.
Wilson also spoke on contemporary or modern dance. This style she notes as being the hardest to explain because it’s vaster and more interpretive than some of the others.
However, she does explain originally, in the turn of the twentieth century, contemporary was a reaction against ballet. But now it has evolved into so many different ideas and forms. The simplest way to define it is: it’s a fusion. She notes some examples of contemporary dancers being Martha Graham and José Limón.
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Even with all these styles and kinds discussed, they only scratch the surface of the different types of dance. There are so many more within and outside of these categories.
As far as where dance is in modern times, Dickey notes overall a lot of dance has begun to be more contemporary-based, even something as classical as ballet.
She said the New York City Ballet, which has kept an idea of traditional and classical ballet as their focus for so many years, is starting to introduce more contemporary outlooks in their dances.
“I love new choreography, and I love new choreographers getting opportunities, but I feel like there has to be some honor to the classics and in keeping ballet companies ballet,” she said. “I feel like if you lose the essence of what ballet companies are, they’re going to lose their uniqueness."
Wilson pointed out today’s dance shows are also shaping the idea of dance. Like Dickey, she can see some positives and negatives to this.
“It’s put dance into the public which is great, but at the same time it’s kind of narrowed the vision of it,” Wilson said.
She discussed this further by explaining that with these performance-based shows, dance sometimes can be thought of as simply a performance. However, dance has many other aspects. It can be therapeutic, or it can just be a way to move the body.
Dealy also agrees with the idea of dance as being more than a performing art.
“To see what all dance encompasses is to see what movement encompasses,” he said. “To me, dance is the physical embodiment and expression of the inner thoughts of the human essence."
With dance’s evolution, both Dickey and Wilson seem to hope the branches of dance will grow and widen, but not lose or forget their roots.
Another interesting concept in dance is the idea of dance as a sport and as an art. Dickey, Wilson and Dealy all agree dancers are athletes, but they are also artists.
“Dancers are certainly athletes, and then, the artistry comes in with the confidence of being able to perform choreography, and then, you can let the emotions happen,” Dickey said.
At Auburn University, students have the opportunity to minor in dance through the theater department. The program is open to all majors and students can simply take dance classes without being a minor. The dance courses are open for all kinds of students.
“One of my favorite parts is the community that gets created within the classes and since how we don’t have a major, sometimes the only way these students find each other is there sharing an interest in dance coming from all different majors,” says Wilson.
Both Dickey and Wilson said all the classes are multilevel, allowing for anyone, from no experience at all to someone who’s danced their whole life, to join.
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