What Are the Different Types of Performing Arts?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
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  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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The different types of performing arts are theater, musical theater, dance, music, acting, magic and circus acts. Performing arts involve using facial expressions, voice, and body language to communicate a creative fabrication. Most forms of performing arts are done in front of a live audience, with the exception of some film and television acting and video musical productions.

Many productions in the performing arts take place in some type of theater. Most theaters consist of an elevated stage and a space for a live audience, and the most common art forms that occur there are acting and music. Theatrical stage productions involve the reenactment of written stories taken from literary works or independent creations. Actors may communicate performances with spoken words, a combination of singing and spoken words, or silent gestures.

As a form of performance art, acting involves impersonating a character. The different emotions and motivations of characters are displayed through various expressions, intonation and body movements. Often, actors must use empathic skills in order to convey the character in a convincing manner.

Another closely related form of performing arts is musical theater. Musicals are plays that integrate songs in place of some spoken words and plot details. Performers often alternate between speaking and singing during the production.


All types of dance, whether they comes in the forms of ballet, tap, jazz, or hip hop, are considered to be performing arts. Dancers typically participate in formal performances, often referred to as recitals. The art of dance attempts to convey emotion, stories, and character tendencies through the use of body language. Music usually accompanies dance performances and body language will often seem to be synchronized with the emotions the music evokes.

Music is considered to be another performance art. It can occur in purely instrumental or vocal form. While instrumental forms do not necessarily convey a specific story, notes are arranged and played in a fashion that affects the emotions. Instrumental music can incorporate harmonies and melodies in order to resemble and evoke certain emotions, such as anger or sadness. The message or theme of songs that use a combination of lyrics and instruments tends to be easier to interpret, but they still rely on the use of structure and pitch to convey feeling.

Magic and circus acts are considered to be a form of performance art. They are typically conducted before a live audience and may use special effects that blur the line between perceived and actual reality. Props and elaborate costumes are usually used in these acts to add to the awe and wonder of the performance's entertainment value.


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Post 3

@bythewell - I actually think one way in which almost anyone could participate in these sorts of activities is to just do them with their kids. There are also often local improv groups who are happy to welcome beginners (although I'd ring and check to make sure of this first).

I don't personally like taking part in performing arts, but I absolutely love watching professional performances. I think it's a shame that some of the more traditional performing arts aren't as valued any more. I hope we never lose the ballet or classical orchestras altogether.

Post 2

@browncoat - I think the same can be said for any lessons at a performing arts school. I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed a short set of drama lessons I had to do as part of a larger course. There was something about being able to pretend to be someone else that really loosened me up.

Plus, it's a chance to play that adults rarely get. Many of the warm-up activities we did were basically variations of childhood games. It made me sad that more people don't get the chance to play these kinds of things any more.

It was also more creative and collaborative than I expected, but that might have been because we had a very encouraging teacher.

Post 1

If you're looking for a new challenge, I would highly recommend going to a performing arts center and taking a course in circus acts. It's the kind of thing that has that touch of magic and the exotic to it and it just looks very impressive.

Plus they are generally fairly active activities and even something like juggling is supposed to be very good for your brain. So you'll get health benefits from learning as well.

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