What is The Contemporary Dance?
Contemporary dance is a form of dance that uses different styles to express feelings and emotions. It is one of the most popular forms of modern-day dance. The term “contemporary” refers to movements that are now or currently in style, as opposed to those that were fashionable years ago. What makes this type of dancing so beautiful is how it can tell a story without words - conveying ideas about time and space with its fluidity and motion.
Contemporary dance does not have a single, identifiable style. It is an eclectic mix of dance techniques from western (classical dance, jazz-modern) and eastern (qigong, Tai Chi Quan, yoga) art of movement. Contemporary dance is distinctive because it reflects current trends and knowledge about the possibilities of the human body and its interaction with dance. The dancer explores and finds new possibilities for movement.
What are its main features?
There are many different styles for this type of dance, but they all have some common features. They are typically focused on the body and the dancer's relationship with it. The body expresses feelings and emotions in ways that words cannot, so the dancer is free to do whatever they want without being restricted by their connection with an outside source. This type of dance can be fluid or rigid, depending on what the choreographer wanted to convey with their movements.
Contemporary dance is characterized by the widest palette of dance patterns and movements.
The movement of this type of dance is highly improvisational, though choreographers do put in some time preparing the overall structure. The movements are continuous and fluid; they roll one into another to make it seem like there was no break between them. Contemporary dancers tend to be more liberal with their use of props and costumes. Often, the style of music is unobtrusive and its tone fits in seamlessly with the dance itself.
One of the best things about this type of dance is that it can be expressed through so many different means. This makes it a constantly growing and changing style, while still maintaining its fluidity throughout every change.
Contemporary dance includes:
- Upright (dance in a standing position)
- Parterre (movements on the floor)
During classes, the focus is on breathing, working with space, body weight, voice, and emotion.
History of contemporary dance style
The term "contemporary" when applied to dance is generally used to describe the modernistic approach towards dance which was born in Western countries.
The history of this type of dancing dates a long way back to ancient times when it was called “naïve art” or “art brut”. This then evolved to the theatrical style known as ballet, popular in Western countries. In Russia, however, there was a different approach to a dance called modern dance that gave rise to such styles as abstract and avant-garde.
It is a style of dance that has been around for quite some time. Contemporary dance was born in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s. The roots of contemporary dance can be seen in the interpretation of ballet. The early innovators included dancers like Isadora Duncan, Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis, and Martha Graham; who worked to create modern interpretations of classical forms in which they combined with their own ideas. This led to the creation of new concepts that allowed for freedom of movement of the body and personal expression through dance. Duncan used to dance to express feelings and emotions which was quite new for this period of time. These new styles became very popular and people began to flock to see them. Dancers like Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham were the first to use this term which later went on to become a separate form of dancing.
Today, contemporary dance is one of the most popular styles that exist and dancers around the world continue to innovate it into something better with each passing day.
Modern vs Contemporary Dance
Modern dance and contemporary dance styles of dance are generally regarded as the same thing, but they actually have quite a few differences.
In this case, the context becomes important. The first to use the term "modern dance" was in the early twentieth century, when the pioneers of modern dance Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Rudolph Laban, and many others decided that dance needed to return to its original significance. So in response to strict classical ballet, they gave up pointe shoes and danced barefoot; they began to talk with dance about complex issues; they went into the parterre, giving great importance to working with gravity, contrary to ballet, which denied gravity.
When, in addition to the basic principles of modern dance, the dance began to adopt the techniques of oriental martial arts, yoga, dance-movement therapy, dance became even more advanced. So in the '60s, the term "contemporary" began to be used.
Today, the term "modern" is most often used to refer to a period of time, it often means the current, today's practice. That is, it refers to the current stage of development of a particular dance style, such as modern ballet, modern jazz, etc. When the term is used without naming a particular genre (as in the previous examples), the term usually refers to the set of aesthetic values preached by the founders of that genre.
Opinions of contemporary dancers and choreographers also differ on this issue and they do not express clear criteria for the difference between contemporary vs modern dance. So instead of thinking about whether modern or contemporary dance styles exist or not, focus on practicing it and having fun!
Different from ballet, where the main idea is weightlessness, in contemporary dance you know how much your body or arm weighs, and you use that to build free, easy, beautiful movement and dance. The focus of the contemporary dance is on the expression of emotions and ideas through movement, rather than trying to be perfect. The fluidity in this type of dance makes it a constantly growing and changing style without losing its fundamental free-flowing nature.
Today, it's hard to define what exactly "contemporary dance" is because of its diversity and uniqueness. It is more important to enjoy the creative process while dancing and creating your own style rather than following strict rules set by people before you.