CLASSICAL CHARACTER / NATIONAL DANCE
Character / National dance is a specific subdivision of classical dance. It is the stylized representation of a traditional folk or national dance, mostly from European countries, and uses movements and music which have been adapted for the theater. Character dance can also include interpreting and representing a particular profession, mode of living, or personality. Character dance is integral to much of the classical ballet repertoire.
You will see this type of dancing in Famous ballets such as Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Giselle, or Don Quixote where fairy tales, stories of royalty and ordinary people are told through character dance. The dancers are portraying a ‘character’ such as a guest at a wedding or a friend of the main character. Some of the nationalities which could be included are Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Arabian and Hungarian.
Character work teaches musicality, rhythm and mime, often working with a prop such as a watering can, a garland or complicated headdress. Students gain knowledge and understanding of various rhythms and time signatures used in character dance. Character dance is a brilliant opportunity to enrich young children’s knowledge of the world, developing an awareness of geography and cultural differences.
Character dance introduces partner work. Interacting with another dancer in close physical proximity helps to develop trust and confidence, as well as a sense of working together for mutual benefit. Through the inclusion of mime and partner work, character dance helps students who are shy to build confidence, overcome social anxiety, and become comfortable interacting in a close physical context. One of the longer term benefits is that character dance helps classical ballet students prepare for partner work. When they are accustomed to dancing with a partner, often they find the transition to pas de deux work less daunting.
Students need ballet shoes and character shoes & girls also need to bring a character skirt to each lesson.