Looking at a description for an upcoming performance you may notice that words like “contemporary” and “classical” are used to describe the style of ballet that is being performed. What exactly does that mean?
All Ballet Looks Similar but There are Differences
On the surface, the two styles of ballet look similar, but there are slight differences that set them apart from each other. Knowing what to look for can help you determine what type of ballet you are watching.
Classical Ballet is Very Structured
Classical ballet is the typical thing people think of when they hear the word “ballet”. It is the elegant, yet extremely structured and very technical style of ballet that has been performed for hundreds of years.
The technique and movements the dancers perform vary depending upon the style of classical ballet performed. There are half a dozen different styles of classical ballet. Each of these styles uses traditional ballet techniques, such as turned out legs/feet, straight arms, graceful movements, and high extensions, but they have added their own unique touch to them.
When staging a classical ballet production, choreographers are required to use the very specific technique and movements used by the style of classical ballet performed. They can change the order of the moves dancers perform, but they can’t create new dance positions or movements.
Even though classical ballet is very structured and rigid, artistic directors and choreographers can still showcase their creative side when staging a production. Choreographers and artistic directors can change up the scenery, modernize costumes, and even create new dances. The only requirement is that the production uses the set style of classical ballet that is preferred by that particular ballet company.
Contemporary Ballet Allows for Creative Freedom
Think of a contemporary ballet production as a mixture of classical ballet and modern dance. It takes the freedom and creativity of modern dance and combines it with dance positions, techniques, and styles that are similar to classical ballet.
Which elements of each style of dance are included in a production is up to the choreographer and artistic director. For example, a production could have dancers dancing in pointe shoes and tutus similar to classical ballet, but the moves and techniques they use closely resemble modern dance.
Choreographers and artistic directors have a lot of creative freedom when it comes to contemporary ballet productions as there really are no restrictions and rules that must be followed.
Examples of Contemporary Ballets and Classical Ballets
Ballet Arizona performs both contemporary ballets and classical ballets. The following are examples of classical ballet and contemporary ballet productions we have performed throughout the years.
The best way to fully understand the difference between a contemporary ballet and classical ballet is to see one performed live. At Ballet Arizona, we have a number of wonderful productions planned for the 2019-2020 season. Check out our list of productions and find a performance you would like to attend.