What is Contemporary Dance?

Contemporary dance is a style of dance which combines different dance genres like jazz, ballet, lyrical, and modern. Improvisation and versatility are highlighted and the focus is on footwork. Thus dance is usually done in bare feet and can be performed with different types of music. 

History of Contemporary Dance 

It started in the mid-twentieth century and has become one of the foremost genres for trained dancers worldwide.

  • Merce Cunningham 

He was considered as the first choreographer to have developed an independent attitude towards modern dance. After being a dancer for Martha Graham for years, he started his independent career as a choreographer in 1942.  

In 1952, he created the Black Mountain college group where he was able to hone his new methods and artistic postulates.  

  • Postmodern dance 

The ambiance of social changes is noticeable in the arts with its tendency for experimentation and radicalism. The artists who shared this same view were: Deborah et Alex Hay, Judith Dunn, David Gordon, Yvonne Rainer, Simone Paxton, Anna Halprin, Meredith Monk, Lucinda Childs, and Elaine Summers. 

  • Butoh 

It is a name given to a group of Japanese performance practices that were considered a type of Japanese contemporary dance. Around 1959, Hijikata critiqued the prevailing dance at that time as superficial. He then develops his own form of dance and gave it the name “dance of the darkness”. Butoh’s prominent features were: use of taboo topics, absurd movements, upward rolled eyes, playful and grotesque imagery, fetal positions, inward rotated legs and feet, etc. 

  •  Pina Bausch 

Around 1940 to 2009 in Germany, Pina Bausch, an heir to German expressive dance created the Wuppertal Dance Theater. The dance theater earned praises for the proposal for a new form of dance. Her work is considered as closely related to contemporary dance because she fused classical and virtuous dance. Her work featured: recurrent subject, denunciation of codes of seduction, combination of poetic and everyday elements, and virtuous dancers. 

  •    Ballet and contemporary dance 

From the point of view of contemporary dance, ballet is an ally that serves the technical development of dancers. From the perspective of ballet, contemporary dance ideas lead to creative concepts and experimentation.