My Experience, Outlook, and Overview of the Classical Dance

When I was in elementary school and junior high, there was one particular dance that really shaped my little world, It was Irish Step, To me, this wasn’t just a dance class where I learned a few steps here and there, it was a free space for me to open up and just be me. While I enjoyed the dance itself greatly, there was a social aspect connected to it I made new friends, connected more with my old friends and tested my physical limits, in turn growing as an individual Traditionally, Irish dance used to be one form, but was separated into three main categories due to the influence of other cultures.

Irish Step was one of those sub categories, It was mainly performed to maintain the integrity of their history and to tell their stories/mythology, Because of their strong connection to their history and the fact that the dance expresses the life of the community through group dances versus individual or couple dances, I would classify it as a communal dance.

When I reexamined Marius Petipa’s Sleeping Beauty ballet and Marth Graham’s famous Night Journey, I found many differences between the two distinct styles as well as some similarities. The movements of Marius Petipa‘s Sleeping Beauty ballet could be described as exact, on point, graceful and had a light delicate feelr There were clear-cut foot pointing and precise leaps and spins. The ballerinas danced together, by themselves and with their male counterparts who helped with lifts, spins but also had their own individual parts, In Sleeping Beauty, the main theme is breaking the spell and finding your happily ever after, or at heart, love.

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This underlying theme gives this performance conflict (between the evil fairy and the King, Queen, and Lilac fairy), suspense (how will the spell get broken), and in the end true love (Prince Desire wakens Princess Aurora with a true love kiss), In contrast, Martha Graham’s Night Journey has some differing characteristics.

To start, while the overarching movements from the ballet were graceful and precise, this modern dance piece broke away from those norms, and moved in a free spirited, angular, jerky kind of way The movements were more chaotic and intense, and had a sort of un-expectancy about them. One minute soft angelic spins, the next rigid/robotic spazzes, In this performance, there were three main characters, the King of Thebes, Queen Jocasta and the blind seer Tiresias. Unlike Sleeping Beauty, where the storyline goes from conflict to suspense to true love, Night Journey is the exact opposite. The King and Queen (actually son and mother) started in love, then suspense hit while you waited for them to react to the news the seer gave them, and then it ends in bloody conflict (the specific scene Night Journey was based on) with Queen Jocasta hanging herself, Also, the dancers all interact with one another in violent/dark ways (the tangling of the King and Queen with the rope, the staff stabbing by the seer and the other shadowy obscure dancers performing) versus ballets more communal/royal demeanor.

To compare, both of these dances used storytelling as the inspiration for their choreography. Both also shared the theme of conflict and resolution appeared in both dances (the curse led to the true love kiss; mother and son were in love led to death), Besides the themes, the orchestra was used in a similar way to emphasis certain dance movements and to build emotional connection between the audience and the performers. From these two performances, one showing ballet technique and the other modern technique, it is made obvious that modern dance has departed from the structure and technique of ballet. Marius Petipa’s Sleeping Beauty showed us the structure necessary for ballet through the use of precise turns, on point foot work and couple work. Marth Graham‘s Night Journey” breaks away from all of that technicality and explores movement as it is and how it can break away from the norm. It is all about original and distinctive movements, apparent in the untypical and eerie body shapes. Also, the exploration of darker imagery, such as death and incest in this case, were examined and explored throttgh modern dance.

Cool, from the musical film West Side Story, takes place in 1961 in Manhattan, New York. The Jets are re-grouping after a treacherous run in of the sharks. As the title intends, this dance is focused around the idea of staying cool, The Jets, the white side of this turf war, find a dark empty warehouse were they let off some steam in the hopes of being able to stay cool so they can best think of the perfect way to get back at the Sharks. In this dance number, the tempo is pretty moderate, highly emphasized by the performers continuous snapping, bttt did contain fast “crazy” movements, as well as ”cool” movements. These jazz movements included a lot of snapping, jazz hands, high jump kicks, quick spins, crouching, full extensions, and throwing the head back in a sassy dramatic fashion. Because of the setting of the movie, two poor gangs trying to keep their turf, it directly influenced the choice to perform Cool in the dark dirty industrial warehouse as well as their loose, “cool,” choreography (full of passion, not precise technique).

In the Nicholas Brothers Stormy Weather, these phenomenal tap dancing brothers take performance to a new level, Maybe Elizabeth Streb pulled some inspiration from these men, because some of the stunts the Brothers pulled looked very painful and hard on their bodies. The effort they exude was very high and the space they covered was well everywhere They started on stage, then on the orchestral drums, then the top stage, next on top of the piano and lastly up and down the stairs. The tempo was very lively which worked perfectly with the Nicholas Brothers’ entertaining and up beat choreography and hammy charisma, Some of these movements included, huge jump splits, spins, floor slides and banister slides and big jumpsi This piece dates back to 1943. At this time African Americans were just now getting recognized as performers, but still many were not cast as any of the leads.

The Nicholas Brothers helped change that perspective and wowed the audience with their confident and entertaining tap performances, and lovable character. One career in the field of dance that we talked about in class was an afterschool dance instructor, Being an afterschool teacher in Potlatch, this job seemed like a great way to get kids excited about dance. I found an actual position online for an afterschool dance instructor and the requirements include at least a year of dance experience and teaching experience, and requires excellent communication skills, reliability, and punctuality. This position benefits the community, simply because promote creativity, exploration, and can help you make friends It gives kids a proper outlet to release energy and have fun, while maintaining a structured learning environment The best part, is it doesn’t stop in the classroom.

The kids, if excited about what they are learning, will take it home and show their parents, passing that new found passion to them, which hopefully will get passed to another and another, creating a never ending cycle As you can see, if the kids are excided about dance, then that little spark will hopefully spark another and another until the whole community is blazing with creative energy. William Forsythe’s Contemporary era choreography and screen dance, One Flat Thing, is a dance that portrays movement, camera angles, objects and timing much differently than most dance genresi The movements are all very distinct with quick spins, arm and leg extensions, gripping hands, and a dependency on the tables and on each other. Since there is no “music“ in the traditional sense of the word, but just thumps and shrills, the dancers are dependent on each other‘s movements to keep some sort of time and well as safeguards for many of their choreographed jumps and catchesi Though each dancer moves in a way unique to only that dancer, some movements are similar enough to create beautiful shapes as a whole.

Because of the use of the tables, Forsythe was able to create all sorts of odd visual experiences for the audience. I personally loved it when some dancers would all of a sudden pop up from under the tables and join in the choreography. On top of it all, Forsythe utilized different camera angles in his screen dance to help focus attention to specific details, give different perspectives and to ultimately create an increasingly intriguing piece of work, This piece is an example of dance in the Contemporary Era because it breaks away from norm, it introduces technology in dance, it throws away the classical music accompaniment and lets the dancing speak for itself.

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My Experience, Outlook, and Overview of the Classical Dance. (2022, Oct 27). Retrieved from

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