Acro dance is a form that includes acrobatic movements. The gymnastic technique that acrobatic dancers can incorporate into a dance routine include handstands, cartwheels, and handsprings. While acrobatics or gymnastics are not forms of dance, they can become dance techniques if the dancer adds rhythm in time to the music with true dance steps.
Acrobatics adds a layer of gymnastic technical skill on top of dance skills. It is a subset of dance that many dance schools may not teach as the acrobatics require specially trained instructors and lots of room for practice. As acro dance requires a high level of fitness and agility, it can be challenging for practitioners.
Gymnastics is a sport that tests the limits of human movement, but dance tests the limits of human movement to music. Acrobatic performers do not attempt to represent the emotion of a piece of music, but this type of dance takes acrobatic skills and fits them into a dance interpretation of music. Generally, acrobatics require the performer to have tight control of his or her body and typically involves a high degree of flexibility.
Dance competitions and organizations generally have set rules for the amount of acrobatics that a dancer can include in his or her routine. Often, the dance and acrobatic portions of the routines each require an equal amount of time. Some organizations have rules for acrobatic dance routines that stipulate the dancer uses even less than 50 percent of his or her time to perform acrobatics.
The type of movements that fall into the acrobatic category include handstands, cartwheels, and elbow stands. As a twist on traditional gymnastics, dancers may also perform in pairs or in larger groups and support each other in gymnastic feats like pitch tucks, where one dancer launches off another dancer's clasped hands. Pyramids of dancers are another possible inclusion in an acro dance routine.
A feature of acro dance is that the dancers move from an acrobatic technique smoothly over to a dance movement. It is this flowing transition that characterizes acro dance compared to other dance-like practices, such as tumbling. The dancing segments of a routine source inspiration from other forms of dance, like classical and jazz. Lyrical and contemporary styles of dance also fit well into the acro dance style, where the smooth and delicate movements soften the hard movements of the acrobatic portion.