Lyrical dance is often called contemporary dance. It combines styles and movements from several dance forms: modern dance, jazz, and ballet. In fact, its arm movements are closer to traditional African dance. This may sound very “anything goes” but on the contrary, lyrical dance requires great mastery and precsion. Dancers must learn various techniques and—while performing the intricate moves—pay equal attention to facial expressions.
No one is quite sure how contemporary dance emerged. Its original intention was to act out the emotions in a song—to “tell a story” with movement and mood. In fact it was often used in concerts and live shows of international artists like Celine Dion. It is also seen in the performances of Cirque du Soleil, which incorporates it in its feats of acrobatics and grace.
Unlike ballet, lyrical dance does not favor a particular body type. One does need to be small or thin, though it is crucial to be in optimum physical condition. That’s because many movements require complicated leg lifts and partner lifts, which entail a lot of grace and flexibility. And while the arm movements seem sharp and angular, it takes some skill to deliver them without looking like a disjointed puppet.
Lyrical dance is also possibly one of the few dance movements where youth can be a disadvantage. Many teachers say that younger students lack the emotional maturity or sensitivity—these are qualities that can only come with the wisdom and experience that comes with age. That is why many dancers who are forced to “retire” from traditional ballet at 25 or 30 then graduate to lyrical dance.