What Is the Difference Between Modern and Ballet?


Ballet and modern dance are both highly respected forms of artistry and are often taught side by side in many dance studios. While there are some elements that overlap, there is a key difference between the two styles.

It is important for dancers to understand the differences so they can make an informed decision about which style to pursue.


Modern dance emerged as a reaction to classical ballet at the end of the 19th century. Its originators wished to create a free form of expression that would not be bound by the strict rules of ballet.

It was seen as a way for dancers to explore emotions and express themselves in a more abstract way. Ballet, on the other hand, has been around for centuries and has been used as an entertainment form since its inception.


The movement in modern dance is more organic and based on natural movements such as walking, running and jumping rather than stylized poses found in classical ballet. Modern dancers strive to express their feelings through movement without set steps or patterns while ballet relies heavily on technique with each step being precisely placed and executed with control.


The costumes worn in modern dance performances tend to be more creative and unique than those seen in traditional ballet performances. Costumes for modern dances vary from simple leotards or tights to brightly colored fabrics with movement enhancing properties like chiffons, tulle, or lycra. Ballet costumes usually consist of tutus or leotards designed to showcase the dancer’s body line and create an illusion of gracefulness.


In conclusion, modern dance is an expressive form created as a reaction against traditional ballet while ballet remains rooted in centuries-old traditions. The difference between these two styles lies largely in their respective movements and costumes which create vastly different visual effects when performed on stage.