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Learn All About Dance!

By Jon, published on 26/04/2018 We Love Prof - IN > Arts and Hobbies > Dance > A Beginners Guide to the World of Dance

Ragga Dancehall, Kizomba, Rock ‘n’ Roll or the Lindy Hop… year over year, dance classes are getting fuller, in view of the diversity and the convivial atmosphere of those artistic lessons.

To say nothing of the health benefits brought by dancing!

As a couple, in a group or solo: there are many ways to discover musical culture and the history of dance.

Discover our tips to dance like a pro!

The Long History of Dance

How can one claim a passion for any subject without knowing anything of its origins?

There are dozens of art history lessons taught in schools across the UK, some specializing in the history of dance.

If you aspire to turn your passion for dance into a career, this research discipline is particularly recommended.

It is not enough to know choreography and undergo intensive dance training to obtain a diploma; academic knowledge of the origins and evolution of dance is a must in order to teach dance with full authority!

To take courses with a dance company or a dance program at university, it is best to have a strong understanding of the culture of dance.

Beware: students enrolled in dance school are marked both on practice and theory of dance!

To shine in those circles, you must delve seriously into some textbooks specialized in dance.

Studying the evolution of dance allows to discover different types of dance, such as:

  • The Carol
  • Lyrical Dance
  • Dramatic Dance
  • The Tarantella – Italian folk dances
  • The Zalongo, commemorating a Greek tragedy
  • The Dionysian dance
  • Renaissance dances
  • The Jig
  • The Waltz
  • The Jerk

Asserting firm knowledge of dance culture is also a major asset in integrating art studies into any higher education.

Some dancers, preferring theory to practice, choose to study art history and become a university teacher-researcher.

Immersing yourself in the history of dance opens many doors: you too could become a pro of this artistic discipline through art history courses!

Which Style of Dance to Choose?

Many Britons are passionate about dance, if the audience numbers for Strictly can be counted.

Besides that, many want dance to become a discipline taught in schools across the country, if only to stave off our youths’ trend toward obesity.

Yet getting into dance is not as simple as one might think.

In view of the dozens of dance styles taught in dance education, it is sometimes difficult to make a choice.

Musical tastes, personality, place of teaching – learning dance in a studio versus a more formal academic setting: it would be best to establish a list of criteria in order to winnow your selection down from among different types of dance.

Our advice: think carefully about what teaching style works best for you.

For example, modern jazz dance would be ideal for taking dance classes as a family or for group dancing, while Salsa lessons or Tango classes are perfect as a couples dance.

Take the time to study the specifics of each dance style:

  • Tap lessons
  • Sports dance classes (stretching classes, Zumba courses, ground bar courses…),
  • Argentine Tango
  • Cuban Salsa – as opposed to Puerto Rican salsa
  • Hip Hop
  • Cha Cha Cha
  • Swing dancing
  • Flamenco dances
  • Bachata
  • Oriental Dances
  • Ragga Dancehall
  • Ballroom Dancing

You may find that taking private dance lessons can help shape your own opinion of a particular dance.

On Superprof, more than 92% of teachers offer their first hour of class for free!

This introductory dance class can help you to better understand the dance you wish to master; its difficulty and the possibility of choreographic evolution.

Find out more about the different dance styles.

Can you dance like Tony in Saturday Night Fever? This film generated so much music for dancing, and inspired many to dance! Source; Wikipedia

Watch Dance Movies to get Inspired

Who has never seen films such as Saturday Night Fever, Flashdance or Dirty Dancing?

Dance films have inspired many amateur and professional dancers.

Yes, before embarking on art discovery, it is best to learn from the greatest artists!

Certified choreographers have become mainstream stars thanks to their work in films about dance.

Take, for example, Benjamin Millepied: this principal dancer from the New York City Ballet is now an indispensable figure in dance, famous even among beginners, thanks to his work on the Oscar-winning film Black Swan.

Watching a mythical dance film can incite you to learn to dance, and also to discover new styles of dance.

You may go so far as to learn famous choreography to prepare for a wedding dance, a dance performance or dancing the night away in a ballroom.

In short, by mastering choreography mainstreamed through a dance film, you are sure to impress any audience!

Among the most popular dance films are these titles:

  • Step Up
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Footloose
  • Steppin ‘
  • Singin’ in the Rain,
  • Shall We Dance?
  • Honey
  • Burlesque
  • Chicago
  • Silver Linings Playbook

Classical dance, modern jazz dance or contemporary dance: each style of dance has its own film for reference.

It should be noted that most dance film actors are not actual dancers; often they are doubled by dance professionals.

These actors are however able to execute complex dance maneuvers (such as half-pointes, the splits or arabesque) after just a few months of intensive courses.

Why not also become a dance pro through group dance lessons?

Inspirational dance quotes can help release your inhibitions Let go of inhibitions through inspiring quotes about dance! Source: Pixabay Credit: MyriamsPhotos

The Best Dance Quotes

“The first to be inspired remains eternally the founder and the source of further inspiration” – Henri-Frédéric Amiel

How better than through the most beautiful phrases of dance to inspire yourself before learning to dance?

Albert Einstein, Friedrich Nietzsche or H. P Lovecraft: The greatest thinkers, philosophers and writers have all expounded on their passion for dance.

Regardless of discipline: a good quote can motivate a pupil during dance training, inspire one to review between dance classes or during an online dance class.

Thanks to Superprof, these greatest quotes of dance and their origins are at your fingertips, for any inspiring you may need:

  • “You were born wild… don’t let them tame you” – Isadora Duncan
  • “Dance is a cage where one learns to be a bird” – Claude Nougaro
  • “The word divides. Dance unites. – Maurice Béjart
  • “With her rippling; bejeweled garments, even when she walks you’d think she’s dancing” – Charles Baudelaire
  • “On eroticism and dance: one of the partners is always responsible for driving the other” – Milan Kundera
  • “Don’t you feel that dance is the act of metamorphosis?” – Paul Valéry
  • “What cannot dance at the edge of the lips will howl at the bottom of the soul.” – Christian Bobin
  • “Technical performance is nothing in itself, dance begins when you put your soul into it” – Leila Hassan
  • “You have to have music within you to make the world dance” – Friedrich Nietzsche.

Many beginner dancers feel constrained by shyness; dance quotes can help break those shackles!

Martha Graham was a master of such shackle-breaking.

This icon of modern dance still influences dancers all over the world through her artistic works, notably through books on dance, primarily A Life of Dancing.

You should take into account the advice of the greatest dancers to overcome your frustrations and dare to dance in a dance studio!

Can you dance Gangnam Style? To dance Gangnam Style, your wrists must be limp, crossed one over the other Source: Pixabay Credit HeungSoon

The Best Music for Dancing

Have you ever wanted to master intricate choreography like a professional dancer?

Your choice of music is paramount to preparing an audition for a dance company.

Generally, every candidate should perform a free dance.

Inspiring music will allow the future professional dancer or the future professional ballerina to perform expressive choreography that reveals his/her passion for dancing!

What we call modern dance is actually the product of years of evolution in dancing. For example, choreography for the ultra-popular song Gangnam Style was thus written up in a popular dance magazine:

“The movement of the legs does not change. It is advisable to skip by alternating the legs as follows, on four strokes: right, left, right, right, then left, right, left, left. In the first part of the chorus, you will have your wrists bent and joined in front of you, shoulders and elbows unflexed, and moving your arms to the rhythm.”

Those instructions, while technically correct, do not suffice.

The best method of learning a choreographic sequence by heart is to attend dance classes, either in dance studios that specialise in the style of dancing you wish to learn, or through private lessons at home.

Your dance instructor will set up a number of mandatory sessions to master all the steps, based on your aptitude for dancing to that style of music.

Knowing the type of music you wish to dance to is up to you; you should think about what style of music you would most like to dance to!

Many couples choose to go through private lessons to learn to dance couple dances. Mastering challenging choreography will assure your ability to impress at your wedding!

To learn all about the art of dance, why not engage a private dance tutor to come to your home?

The Most Beautiful Ballets in History of Dance

Ballet is a very special art form, a bit apart from other dance styles.

Sadly, nowadays few young people are interested in this kind of musical show mixing classical dance and highbrow music.

Ballet technique is a unique combination of expressive poses set to master composers’ opuses such as those of Tchaikovsky or Mozart.

Ballet’s origins trace back to 15th century Italy, the word “ballet” comes straight from the Italian word “ballo” which means “dance”.

A popular art form since its inception, ballet was invented to entertain the people through dance and music.

Inevitably, this musical spectacle reached the royal court – who then claimed it as their own, as was the case in France, with the foundation of the Royal Academy of Dance by Louis XIV, to ensure dancers are properly trained.

Thereafter ensued a passion for a broader expression in dance, thanks to comedy-ballets conducted and orchestrated by Jean-Baptiste Lully, Molière, and Pierre Beauchamp.

In the twentieth century, the Russian Ballet came to shake up the classical norms of dance. Russian choreographers integrated new, more acrobatic moves into their dances, and created innovative staging.

Through all this turmoil and upheaval, is it really possible to define what a beautiful ballet is?

Would a beautiful ballet be a spectacle arousing the audiences’ emotion?

To achieve this effect, everyone in the ballet company, from ballet bodies to the choreographer, and even the stage decorator, made artistic concessions in order to create coherence among all elements of the show.

It is all those elements that tease our emotions when attending dance programs: choreography, music, costumes, decor, makeup,… all of those details come into account.

To remain a viable form of expression, targeted changes and sensitive choices enforce the artistic side of ballet.

Still: beauty in art remains a subjective point of view: some works can touch your best friend’s soul, yet leave you as stone.

Nevertheless, some ballets stand out. They are mostly historical ballets, danced for decades – if not centuries, and written by great composers such as Tchaikovsky, Mozart, or Bizet.

Tales – true or fictional, are often the basis for such visual art.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of traditional ballets:

  • Swan Lake from Tchaikovsky
  • Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring
  • Mozart’s Magic Flute
  • Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker
  • The Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky
  • Don Quixote – Minkus
  • Bizet’s Carmen
  • Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev
  • Chopin’s Lady of the Camellias – what we know as Camille.

Not that these ballets exceed all the others in merit, but they have stood the test of time

These pieces have been played over and over, with many different interpretations: their accolades at each performance is a testament to their success through the ages.

These works are as accessible for beginners in the world of dance as for confirmed dance enthusiasts; classics to review time and time again.

It is most often after these performances that several dancers were named principal dancer or prima ballerina, a designation sought after by all the classical dancers, which in turn reaffirms the reputation of these great ballets played all over the world.

Why not buy tickets to the next ballet; discover this dancing art for yourself?

Marie-Claude's expressive style makes her a standout choreographer in the dance world Ms. Pietragalla is famous for her contributions to the evolution of dance! Source: Wikipedia Credit Zoomelliott

The Most Talented Choreographers

The artistic professions make more than one person dream, in our country and abroad.

Dance, music, painting, photography… all of the artistic disciplines: every apprentice artist hopes one day to be able to live their art.

The best dancers often dream of becoming a principal dancer, as much as the fledgling guitarist would dream of one day being a rock star.

Unfortunately, fame seems to favour only a few. 

Fortunately, becoming a lead dancer is not the only way to reach the pinnacle of achievement in a career of dance.

In classical dance as in hip hop or modern jazz, choreography – and thus the choreographer, is indispensable.

Although Pierre Beauchamp was the first to annotate positions for Molière’s and Lully’s comedy-ballet, the word choreography was used for the first time in 1700 by Raoul-Auger Feuillet, himself a master of dance.

It was he who first designed choreography for just a portion of a show, and later for an entire show.

Choreography comes from Ancient Greek: Khoeria meaning Dance in chorus; Graph, of course, writing.

The silent star of any ballet, and an indispensable element of boy bands so popular at the dawn of this millennium – can we ever forget them? the choreographer is as vital to dance as a film director is to making an epic.

Why not get started in dance as a choreographer?

To inspire you here are some names of the greatest dance choreographers of recent decades:

  • Aurélien Bory
  • Pierre Rigal
  • Maurice Béjart
  • Benjamin Millepied
  • Carolyn Carlson
  • Marie-Claude Pietragalla
  • Kamel Ouali
  • Mia Frye
  • Wade Robson
  • Blanca Li

Among these names feature Britney Spears’ choreographer, the creator of the global dance sensation La Macarena, a couple of principal dancers and soloists; all styles of dance and dancer profiles are represented on this list!

While some have followed the path of recognized classical dance schools, others have begun as self-taught and have made themselves a name little by little.

Non-traditionals include Wade Robson, who was discovered very young for his dance talent by the legendary Michael Jackson.

That’s a good enough start to a prolific career, don’t you think?

Not everyone needs to be the protégé of Michael Jackson to find work as a choreographer.

It is quite possible to build a career by designing choreography for small or large dance companies before…

Why not dream big? Choreograph a performance at the Royal Opera House?

Whether self-taught or enroled in dance school, or even with a private tutor: there are so many ways to learn to dance! You have to choose the best way according to your profile and your desires.

But, there are no secrets to achieving success: you have to work.

Although many dancers and choreographers have a certain knack for creating artistic movement, it is much more work than gift.

The common denominator, among every talented choreographer, is experience mixed with passion and desire.

No matter the dance style! The more styles are blended, then more surprising the resultant choreography.

This is a way to stand out among all the top choreographers!

Can you do the Moonwalk like Michael Jackson? Michael Jackson, King of Pop, is venerated as a pioneer of dance Source: Pixabay Credit: Janeb13

The Ten Best Dancers in History

Often directors of the Paris Opera, always principal dancers, the greatest dancers in the history of dance all have inspiring qualities.

Maurice Béjart (1927-2007)

A renown choreographer, a member of the French Academy of Fine Arts, and above all one of the most remarkable dancers of the twentieth century, Maurice Béjart is a point of reference in the dancing world. He founded several dance companies which put on shows all over the world.

Vaslav Nijinsky (1889-1950)

A Russian dancer and choreographer, Vaslav Nijinsky danced with the Imperial Dance Academy of St. Petersburg and the Ballets Russes. He remains, for some, the first name in dance, and remains their star dancer.

Manuel Legris (1964)

Manuel Legris entered the Palais Garnier Opera company as a dancer at the age of 11, retiring after thirty years on stage. At the peak of his career he was named a principal dancer by the illustrious Maurice Béjart.

Marie-Claude Pietragalla (1963)

Known for her role as judge for the French edition of Dancing with the Stars, Marie-Claude Pietragalla is herself a talented dancer and choreographer. She started dancing ballet with the National Paris Opera very young, and became a lead dancer at the age of 27.

Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993)

Rudolf Nureyev was one of the most talented dancers in the history of dance. Director of ballet for the Paris Opera from 1983 to 1989, he was initially recognized as a dancer thanks to his flawless technique.

Pavel Dmitrichenko (1984)

Born into a family of dancers, Pavel Dmitrichenko could hardly escape destiny! Among his great accomplishments as a dancer was his time with the Bolshoi Ballet, dancing lead on Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet and Spartacus.

Benjamin Millepied (1971)

Husband of the beautiful Natalie Portman, Benjamin Millepied is one of the choreographers for the documentary film Black Swan. Since then, he has been dance director for the Paris Opera. He has also danced with the New York City Ballet.

Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

King of Pop and Lord of Dance Michael Jackson, known for his Moonwalk – which drew raves at every stage show: this singer was a true showman who, still today, inspires dancers worldwide.

Patrick Dupond (1959)

Patrick Dupond was appointed principal dancer at the Paris Opéra in 1980. Shortly afterward, he became their director of ballet. He learned and refined his dance technique through collaboration with dance greats such as Maurice Béjart and Rudolf Nureyev.

Sergei Polunin (1989)

Sergei Vladimirovich Polunin is perhaps the most talented dancer to have recently emerged from Ukraine. Integrated into the Royal Ballet in London at 17, he became principal dancer at only 20. A short yet impressive career that makes him one of the most talented dancers in the history of dance.

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