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Elise Bolton

on 17 September 2013

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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.

Basic 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.

Acro dancers commonly wear flexible, form-fitting clothing for both safety and aesthetic reasons. Form-fitting clothing is preferred over loose clothing because the latter does not move synchronously with the body and thus may interfere with a dancer's ability to maintain control. This is especially important when a dancer is performing tricks, as loss of control can lead to serious injury. Aside from the safety aspect, form-fitting clothing also helps to expose a dancer's body lines, which can add significantly to the visual impact of an acro dance performance.

Competitive acro dancers frequently wear costumes when performing at dance competitions. Acro costumes often have loose fabric pieces such as short skirts, but the sizes and locations of these pieces are carefully calculated to ensure that they pose no safety risks. As an extra safety measure, skirts are sometimes pinned or stitched at the back below the waistline so that they will not hang at full length when the dancer is inverted, as in hand walking; this prevents the skirt—which might otherwise become entangled in the dancer's hair or costume headpiece—from contacting the dancer's head.

Acro dancers most often wear jazz dance shoes, which are commonly referred to as acro shoes by acro dancers. Acro shoes are called jazz boots, jazz ankle boots, jazz booties and other names, by their various manufacturers. They are typically laceless, slip-on shoes, with tight-fitting leather uppers that are designed to prevent the dancer's feet from shifting inside the shoes. Because of their thin, pliable leather uppers and split soles, acro shoes have excellent flexibility, thus enabling dancers to attain both good dance form and acrobatic control. The sole is made of soft, composite rubber so as to provide both high traction and cushioning, and it provides excellent protection from skin abrasion as it covers the entire bottom of the foot. Less commonly, acro dancers may wear foot thongs, which are variously called Dance Paws and FootUndeez, depending on the manufacturer. Foot thongs—which are slip-on, partial foot covers that protect only the ball of the foot—are sometimes preferred over acro shoes for aesthetic reasons. In particular, flesh colored foot thongs endow the wearer with the appearance of having bare feet, while retaining some degree of the traction, cushioning, and abrasion protection provided by acro shoes.
The term acrobatics used to only be used when people were talking about the act of walking on a tightrope.

The word derives from the Greek akrobatos, which may be translated ‘walking on tiptoe’, but which literally means ‘to go to the highest point’ (akros: highest; batos, from the verb for ‘to go’).

the performing art of acrobatics has roots in ancient Chinese culture, where it emerged in tribal rituals related to daily activities

Work, intertribal relations, and religious sacrifices all had their own corresponding acrobatic movements as the art developed alongside music, song, and dance.

Acrobatics has maintained its status as a spectacular bodily art; complex gymnastic feats are now often performed with apparatus such as balls, unicycles, trampolines, tightropes, and trapezes.

some songs used for acro are:
Spice up your life ~ Spice Girls

Kung Fu Fighting ~ Carl Douglas

Safety Dance ~ Glee Cast

99 Red Balloons ~ Nena

Lollipop ~ Mika

Total Eclipse Of The Heart ~ Glee

Along The Wall~ Leigh Nash

When The Night Feels My Song ~ Bedouin Soundclash

Airplanes ~ B.O.B ft. Hayley Williams

Pictures Of You ~ The Last Goodnight

You and Me ~ Lifehouse

Maybe This Time ~ Glee Cast

Here In Your Arms ~ Glee Cast

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 Federations.

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