Imagine you’re at a Broadway show, watching a main character’s solo.  She’s feeling desolate and shows her emotions in a moving dance performance.  She hides her face, reaches up as if pleading, sways from side to side in the agony of her desperation and ends crumpled in a ball on the floor.  This is a form of interpretive dance.  The dancer showed her emotions through her body movements and dancing.

The History of Interpretive Dance

Interpretive dance incorporates a wide variety of dance styles and techniques – the most important element being that it typically depicts a story or emotion.  Interpretive dance comes out of a modern dance tradition that began in the early 1900s.  This movement away from the traditional and constrictive ballet dancing was invented by dancers such as Isadora Duncan and Loie Fuller among others.  Along with the movement away from ballet, there was also a movement towards fitness and using dance in new ways.   Using gymnastics and other exercises to develop dance technique became more acceptable and popular.

This style of dance also departs from traditional ballet in the clothing that is worn.  While ballet usually involves pointe shoes and constrictive corsets, interpretive dance uses flowy costumes, and may use ribbons as well as spandex.  Early pioneers in modern dance departed drastically from traditional expectations by dancing barefoot and using tunics or other costumes that allowed for more freedom of movement.  Interpretive dance allows for more expression from the part of the dancer, whereas more traditional dances require strict adherence to choreography.    

Style and Use

This style of dance is similar to lyrical dance in that it expresses strong emotions associated with a piece of music or song.  Lyrical dance draws from heavy use of techniques that come from jazz and ballet.  Yet, there is much more space for expression and interpretation on the part of the dancer than in more traditional dancing.  

In some cases, interpretive dance is considered a category that encompasses dance styles such as lyrical dance, jazz and theater dance.  Within the dance world there is much debate regarding how to categorize styles of dancing and how to use names and labels.  This is understandable as within dance, there are many styles that overlap and can be performed in a variety of different ways.

Yet, the main characteristics of interpretive dance are broad, creating a space in which many kinds of dance may be categorized as interpretive.  This type of dance encourages the dancer to express his or herself with or without music.  The dance may express a story or simply emotions.  Choreography may or may not used, and when used usually allows for some variance to allow for full creativity.  Due to the expressiveness of this type of dance, it is often popular for theatrical productions.  

Interpretive style dance can be fun and exciting to learn.  It allows dancers to use their own expressiveness and creativity along with techniques they may already know.  If you’re interested in learning more about interpretive dance style, contact a reputable dance studio today.

(Arthur Murray Studio is a reputable dance studio.  For more information about how to get started with your dance lessons, call 714-283-9119)