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Dance just might be one of the most intuitive forms of art, the rhythmic motions people make to music, often set to sequenced steps. In theater, dance can play a variety of roles. Dance can reveal character quirks and traits. Dance can set a tone, from jovial to melancholic. Dance can tell a story, create a narrative. Dance can help people examine their lives. Although some sub-genres of theater separate dance from the equation, many productions are defined by and sustained by elements of dance.
Dance shows can describe two things. First, dance shows refer to performances that rely primarily on dance. Second, dance shows refer to productions performed by artists who are trained in dance and draw heavily from that background.
An example from that first category—theatrical performances that heavily involve dance—can be a little difficult to define, because theater is increasingly dynamic, intersecting between various forms of art. For example, performances of the Can-can—famous for high-energy, exorbitant high kicks from the 1840s—entertains audiences largely because of the dance movements themselves. Music is a secondary component to the performance, and dialogue is removed altogether.
There are a growing number of examples in the second category—dance-based artists working outside of dance—of what makes up dance theater. These artists and the shows they contribute to may focus on theater or music or another art, but dancers bring a unique background and skillset to the expression within any given medium. Examples of these types of artists include Patricia Hoffbauer, a New York transplant from Brazil who is a dance artist and educator who pulls from playwrights in her work; Faye Friscoll, known for being a Bessie Award-winning dancer and choreographer who weaves props and unstable elements in her work; and Okwui Okpokwasili, an Igboo-Nigerian-American choreographer, performer and writer who always pulls from her multidisciplinary background in her art.
For people who are less attuned to music and dialogue, there is something instinctual, gripping, and approachable about physical movement. If the balletic “Bottle Dance” from Fiddler On The Roof always makes you smile and sway, or if the throwback, lively “Hello, Dolly!” from Hello, Dolly! always makes you beg for an encore, there is a good chance that dance shows will be your new favorite type of theater to indulge. Enjoy the impressive choreography and dance moves in a production near you by picking up your tickets today.