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What is Concert Dance?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 23, 2024
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Concert dance, often called dance theater or performance dance, is a style performed as entertainment or ceremony for a non-participating audience. Like a theater performance, it usually makes a clear distinction between the performers and the audience. This style has been performed in some forms since ancient times, but as a whole, it has risen to considerable popularity since the 20th century.

Some of the earliest concert dances were performed by Indian temple dancers. Some traditional Indian dances were performed for spiritual reasons and only done within the walls of the temple. Another form, called Carnatakam, was performed for the entertainment of the royal court, and may be the origin of the modern for.

Ballet is one of the earliest forms of dance theater to spread across the world. In the late 16th century, the Italian dancer Balthasar de Beaujoyeux brought the style to the French court. By the mid-17th century, King Louis XIV founded a dance school to study the practice of the now-popular form. Over the next two centuries, ballet would spread throughout Eurasia, leading to major technique innovations in the style and popularizing performance dance across the continent. It remains one of the most popular styles of performance dance today.

In the early 20th century, a quiet rebellion began against the classical strictures of ballet, and modern dance was founded. Based on principles of free and natural movement, the movement became popular in America. Incorporating elements of world dance with a style considerably less traditional than ballet, modern dance quickly attracted an audience of its own.

Today, many forms of dance can be performed as concert dances. In America, high school and college dance programs often give performances of many styles, as their students come to them with a variety of training and technique backgrounds. A typical educational dance concert will likely involve ballet, contemporary, jazz, musical theater dance, and even hip-hop or break-dancing. The dances can be performed solo or in groups, as long as there is a distinction between audience and dancers.

The popularity of concert dancing has lead to several films and television series dedicated to the dance world. In the feature film Center Stage the plot follows a group of young ballet dancers as they struggle through their first year at a prestigious dance school in New York. The film culminates with a large dance concert, featuring a long choreographed dance performed for both the audience onscreen and the audience watching the movie.

For a number of years, the US TV program So You Think You Can Dance? has highlighted different forms of dance. This competition show puts carefully selected dancers in pairs, having them perform in a different style every week. Frequent styles include ballroom dances like samba or jive, contemporary routines, Broadway dance, hip-hop, and disco. This program is an excellent introduction to the world of concert dance and can be viewed without even having to leave the home.

People can see dance performances in their area by contacting local community arts centers for information. Some people might even enjoy taking a dance class themselves, to see what the thrill of performing for an audience feels like. Concert dance can be an entertaining and moving form of theatrical performance.

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Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for Musical Expert. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By ellafarris — On May 23, 2011

@Sierra02 - It really depends on what date you have planned for the performance and also how well experienced the dancers are.

There are other factors to consider too like how hard is the choreography, how long each dance will last and how quickly the dancers can learn each one.

Generally you should start practicing about six months in advance. Then the last month or two you’ll have time to correct any areas that may need improving.

The extra time at the end also allows you room for possible mishaps and more time to perfect the dance moves. Hope this helps and good luck on your fundraiser.

By Sierra02 — On May 20, 2011

We’re trying to raise money for the performing arts department at our school which is fairly new for us. We would like to put on a big dance concert sometime during the next school year. Does anyone know about how long it takes to prepare for a show?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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