character dance

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A wide ranging term, mostly used in ballet, to denote forms of dance which fall outside the category of classic-academic dance. It refers to the national dances that were prevalent in 19th-century ballets; also to folk, ethnic, and rustic dances. It is additionally used to describe choreography that specifically illustrates a character's function or occupation (sailor, farmer, shoemaker) or choreography that is performed by older dancers or by dancers portraying older figures. The latter are usually heavily reliant on mime. National dances (like Polish, Hungarian, Spanish, Italian, and Russian) are found in many 19th-century ballets where they are frequently performed as entertainments at court gatherings, and as such they provide a lively and exotic contrast to classical dancing. Swan Lake and Raymonda contain fine examples of national dancing which serve no overt narrative purpose but provide vivid diversion. Character dance associated with certain types of characters—such as jesters, buffoons, villains, magicians, and supernatural creatures—is rarely performed on pointe (a notable exception being the role of Bottom in Ashton's The Dream). In ballet, the demi-caractère dancer is often shorter in stature but possesses all the technical virtuosity of a leading artist. A famous example of the demi-caractère dancer is the Blue Bird in The Sleeping Beauty.

Subjects: Dance.

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