Lyrical dance is a modern dance form which fuses modern dance, jazz, and ballet. This form is often referred to as contemporary dance. It requires excellent technique to perform, as the moves are often difficult and precise. Moreover, the dancer should be aware of his or her facial expressions while dancing.
The origins of lyrical dance are unclear. The form is most often seen in live shows of contemporary music artists and some types of stage shows. The goal of the dancer is to convey the emotion of a song's lyrics through dance. Intense emotional expression of the face and body are necessary to tell a story that evolves along the lines of the song to which the dance is performed.
Unlike other dance forms, lyrical dance is far less concerned with a dancer's physique. Often, excellent jazz and ballet dancers are drawn to the lyrical style because they lack the traditional dancer's build. It is quite common to see dancers who are not extremely thin; however, lyrical dance demands a high degree of flexibility and complicated lifts, so dancers with a nontraditional build still need to be in excellent physical shape to perform lyrical pieces.
Lyrical dance also appeals to both those who are slightly older and slightly younger. Some dance teachers comment that it is quite difficult to teach this style of dance to younger students, as they simply lack the ability to convey emotions they have yet to experience to any great degree. There are exceptions, of course, but one frequently sees many lyrical dances performed by dancers who at the age of 25 to 30 are considered too "old" for ballet. Despite their possible lack of experience, many younger dancers are attracted to this style for its focus on emotion.
Characteristic of this dance style is flowing dance moves that connect throughout the dance. The upper body movements are generally quite different from ballet styles, and one often sees body angles unfamiliar to either jazz or ballet. In some ways, the upper body movements resemble traditional African dance forms.
Lyrical dance is often performed with toes pointed in partner lifts or in leg lifts. Common practice often demands leg lifts with toes flexed, which is much more challenging to the dancer's flexibility. Choreography frequently features partners, as interpreting ballads often means interpreting the intensity of love relationships or lost love.
As an evolving form, most practitioners and choreographers are better known for either their contributions to the jazz or ballet world. The form has received much attention from various television dance competition shows. Choreographers like Mia Michaels, who has her own successful lyrical company, have become well known for this style.