Acro dance is a style of dance that combines classical dance technique with precision acrobatic elements. It is defined by its athletic character, its unique choreography, which seamlessly blends dance and acrobatics, and its use of acrobatics in a dance context. It is a popular dance style in amateurcompetitive dance as well as in professional dance theater, such as Cirque du Soleil. Acro dance is referred to simply as acro by dancers and dance professionals.
Acro is an especially challenging dance style for dancers as it requires them to be trained in both dance and acrobatic skills. Acro dancers must be in excellent physical condition as well, because acro is a physically demanding activity. Although acro is a popular dance style, many dance schools do not teach it, often due to lack of facilities or expertise needed for acrobatic training.
Acrobatic Dance combines the suppleness of
a contortionist with the gracefulness of a dancer. Acrobatic Dance
has been taught and performed in South Africa for more than 50
years. Nine years ago it was finally recognised as a Sport and is
currently a registered discipline with the South African Gymnastics
Acrobatic dance emerged in the United States and Canada in the early 1900s as one of the types of acts performed in vaudeville. Although individual dance and acrobatic acts had been performed in vaudeville for several decades prior to 1900, it was not until the early 1900s that it became popular to perform acts that combined dance and acrobatic movements.
Acrobatic dance did not suddenly appear in vaudeville; rather, it appeared gradually over time in a variety of forms, and consequently no individual performer has been cited as its originator. Sherman Coates, who performed with the Watermelon Trust from 1900 to 1914, was recalled by fellow dancers as the first acrobatic dancer they had ever seen. Another of the earliest documented acrobatic dance performers was Tommy Woods, who became well known for his slow-motion acrobatic dance in Shuffle Along, in which he would execute acrobatic movements precisely in time with the music. In 1914, acrobat Lulu Coates formed the Crackerjacks, a popular vaudeville troupe that included acrobatic dance in their performance repertoire up until the group disbanded in 1952. Many other popular vaudeville companies combined acrobatics and dance in their shows, including the Gaines Brothers.
Since the decline of the vaudeville era, acrobatic dance has undergone a multi-faceted evolution to arrive at its present-day form. The most significant aspect of this evolution is the integration of ballet technique as the foundation for dance movements, thus bringing into acro dance a precision of form and movement that was absent in vaudeville acrobatic dance. Also, vaudeville acrobatic dances were often little more than acrobatics set to music, whereas modern acro dance is fundamentally dance, with its acrobatic movements performed in a dance context.
Acrobatic training teaches flexibility, balance, strength, muscle control, and above all, discipline and concentration. The high degree of discipline and concentration required for acrobatics carries over to many aspects of a student's life, including academics and other athletic performance.
Good acrobatic schools give great freedom of expression to a performer. In an acrobatic dance, you can add dance elements from ballet, jazz, modern, or even tap to make your dance an expression of your personality. There are no rules limiting the movements you may perform, the length of your dance, or the type of music you must use.
tumbling skills can be an added bonus for any dancer or athlete.
With careful, quality instruction, a dancer will gain more
flexibility and upper body strength, giving him or her a
substantial advantage in today's demanding choreography. It is an
excellent way to learn spatial awareness, an important element in
partnering and ensemble work.