Throughout the history of So You Think You Can Dance, there has been a lot of heated debate over what exactly defines a contemporary dance routine. Several other dance styles, including lyrical and jazz, look similar to contemporary dance. But what makes them different?

In today’s SYTYCD Glossary, we’ll let executive producer Nigel Lythgoe do the talking. Here’s Nigel’s interpretation of what defines contemporary dance.

Nigel claims, “I think contemporary dance has a basis in classical dance...I don't really think you should be classified as a contemporary dancer if you haven't had classical training, so we'll use that as a base.” And it’s true — most of the competition’s contemporary dancers are trained in classical dance, giving their contemporary work form and strong, clear lines.

But how is it different from other similar styles? Nigel had a response for that as well. “It's really difficult to differentiate lyrical and contemporary, and a kid today calls it concert [dance]...For me contemporary tells a story, gives a lot of emotion, and is based in the classical world.”

So there you have it folks — the definition of contemporary dance according to the one and only Nigel Lythgoe. The most important thing about contemporary dance is that it’s relevant to the viewer; contemporary dance should make the audience feel something. That’s why we love it so much!

Source: Theater Jones

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