Dance Genres

The dance world is diverse with so many forms and philosophies. At Inspired, we focus on concert dance, which is most often seen in a theater setting where the choreography tells a story through movement. Most professional dance companies, ballet schools and college dance programs focus on creating concert dance. With that focus, our classes offer training in the genres of ballet, modern and contemporary.

BALLET is an artistic dance form performed to music using precise and highly formalized set steps and gestures. Classical ballet, which originated in Renaissance Italy and established its present form during the 19th century, is characterized by light, graceful, fluid movements. All ballet classes are taught with the original French terminology and is the foundation for strength, balance, and control found in many other dance forms.  Once an advanced level is achieved, ballet dancers will adopt the use of the infamous pointe shoe, stiff satin-covered shoes with a wooden toe box used to elevate the dancer on the edge of her toes to give the impression of floating. 

MODERN dance is a free, expressive style of dancing, primarily arising out of Germany and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Modern dance is often considered to have emerged as a rejection of, or a rebellion against, classical ballet. With a disregard for ballet’s strict movement vocabulary and limited set of movements, modern dance focused on basic human movement such as contraction and release, sharp and jagged movement, and the deliberate use of gravity to make the dancers seem weighted or grounded. Modern dance pioneers such as Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Lester Horton, and many others developed their own movement vocabulary still widely used in modern dance technique classes today. These core classes promote strength, flexibility, and control in a way that, combined with classical ballet training, allow dancers to achieve the ultimate physique and aesthetic they need to reach a professional career in dance.

CONTEMPORARY is a style of dance that combines elements of ballet, modern, jazz, lyrical and others to create a highly expressive product. Although the terms contemporary and modern can be misleading, contemporary dance typically refers to the dance period that began after the 1950s when artists such as Alvin Ailey began experimenting with incorporating older styles of modern dance (for Ailey it was Lester Horton’s technique) with African American aesthetics and ideas. Over the past 70+ years, artists around the world have compiled all forms of dance to create contemporary works of art. For the purpose of technique classes today, however, we consider the combination of ballet, modern, and jazz to define our movements. Contemporary choreography can be presented in the form of story like in ballet, in the form of emotion like in lyrical, or in a fully abstract way like in modern dance where choreographers simply explore concepts like sharp, smooth, heavy, light, fast, slow to create a piece. Although dancers must have a fully comprehensive understanding of ballet and modern dance techniques to perform contemporary dance properly and without injury, there’s never a wrong answer when creating a contemporary move. That’s the beauty of this particular art form.