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.