There are many different types of modern dance. As a modern dancing teacher I often get asked ‘what exactly is modern dancing?’ It is a difficult question to explain, as modern dance is broken up into so many different styles and forms, but I will discuss the most popular forms as per my own dance classes.
When most people think of modern dance, they picture cabaret dancers or the type of dancers that you see aboard cruise liners or in musical shows. This is modern, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Modern dance is broken down into many different forms. Broadway, jazz, contemporary and lyrical are just a few. It could also be explained as ballet with less conformity.
When starting modern dancing lessons, the student will normally be introduced with a short bar, which is similar to a ballet bar, but with not too much turnout and different music. The bar work will include some slow knee bends, foot work and limbering. Just like ballet dancers, they will need to build up their strength, flexibility and technique in order to do well in this dance form.
In the centre, things will normally start to liven up with some jazzy movements. Pupils are taught how to do step ball changes, various isolation’s of different body parts and different jumps. Once they have learnt a few steps, they will normally be joined together to form a short dance.
In the beginning, modern tends to be more towards jazz, and later on, as the student progresses, he or she will slowly go more into the contemporary and lyrical styles of modern.
Contemporary modern is more difficult and the dancer will need tremendous strength in her body and particularly in her core muscles to sustain all the movements, which tend to be slower than jazz. There are a lot of slow contractions and also many movements with swinging quality. In order to look good doing contemporary dance, you would do well by having a classical ballet background, but some dancers take to this without any formal ballet training. It also helps if you are flexible.
Once you have learnt the basics, you will be able to use what you have learnt to translate the movements into all the different styles required. A well-trained jazz dancer will look great doing cabaret or Broadway, and should also be able to pick up a slower blues type dance.
A good training in modern dance will even help you to pick up hip hop or Latin styles of dance with ease.