Classical ballet and contemporary ballet are both styles of dance that require a great amount of physical strength and flexibility; however, the two styles of dance vary in physical movement, grace, and tradition.
Strength plays an important role in both classical and contemporary ballet. Both styles of ballet use every muscle in the human body, which builds strength over time. Ballet dancers are able to achieve certain positions and movements because of the strength that each of them are required to have. It is impossible to be successful in either style of ballet without the proper strength built in certain areas of the body such as the abdominals, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, ankles, and feet.
Classical and contemporary ballet both use a great deal of flexibility. Dancers have to attain flexibility to achieve goals like reaching a split position when jumping in the air and having higher extensions when raising the leg off of the ground. Having flexibility, as a dancer,
In classical ballet, everything is done under a strict set of principles. A classical ballet dancer should stand straight with the shoulders and hips facing the same direction. The hip flexors should be rotated outward with the feet also turned out. The core of the body must engaged and able to maintain balance. Every movement made in classical ballet is only correct if it is done in this placement. Each step in classical ballet is specific and deliberate and there is a technique that cannot be changed. All movement made by a classical ballet dancer is technical, but it is the dancer’s job to make each step appear effortless while maintaining the placement that is required.
Contemporary ballet is everything that classical ballet is not. It allows all of the strict rules of classical ballet to be tossed aside. This style of dance can be done any way a dancer should choose because there is no specific placement that the body is restricted to move in. In contemporary ballet, there is room for creativity and exploration in physical movement. A dancer may twist, curve, constrict, and expand their body however they feel necessary. Emotions can be more easily expressed in contemporary ballet than in classical ballet because of the freedom to move in every way that classical ballet does not allow you to move.
Grace is one of the key aspects of classical ballet. Although every step is technical and can only be done a specific way, ballet was intended to be a graceful art form. No steps should look stiff or mechanical when dancing because you have to keep the audience engaged by giving that hint of simple elegance
The tradition of classical ballet started in Italy in the fifteenth century. It spread to countries such as England, France, and Russia, which play a big role in the development of what is known today as classical ballet. Ballet was originally performed by amateurs, until it started to become a professional art and set up its own vocabulary.
Contemporary ballet began when George Balanchine, a company director for the New York City Ballet, branched off from classical ballet. He liked the idea of mixing classical ballet with types of movement that do not follow the set standards. As a result, Balanchine became a very popular choreographer and choreographed many ballets that are still performed today by most professional ballet companies. Balanchine decided to call this style of dance neoclassical ballet, or contemporary ballet.