Contemporary dance is a beautiful and graceful art form. This dancing form is one of the most graceful and free-spirited dance forms in the world. Contemporary dance has a huge fan base and is popular across continents.
This dance form focuses on carrying out flexible (and difficult) movements with ease in a graceful manner. This dance form is one of the most sought after dance styles as it caters to a wide demographic. Contemporary dance is an unconventional dance form that tries to break out from the usual classic dance styles like ballet.
Contemporary dance, although, is a slightly advanced dance form, nonetheless, it has different categories and stages. Because of which it has a reach over a wide variety of people. It has collaborated with other dance forms to form various types of contemporary dance.
And all of these styles are equally sought after by dancers the world over. That is why contemporary dance is included in modern dance forms. Because of the evolution, this dance form has gone through.
There are many reasons why contemporary dance is so popular. And it is very beneficial for us to learn contemporary dance. But before we get down to these sections, let us get a little bit more clarity about what this dance form is all about?
What is contemporary dance?
Contemporary dance, as mentioned earlier, is a graceful classical dance form that has been in existence for some time. And it is a slightly advanced dance style that mostly, only very good or adept dancers attempt.
The reason for this is that learning contemporary dance requires discipline and learning the techniques thoroughly. It is a very technical dance (while learning) and requires hours of practice and hard work required to get the fluidity in your moves absolutely right.
However, contemporary dance is for the free spirited and passionate dancers. Who may need the discipline in class but on stage they perform without a guide or rule book. Fluidity is very important in this dance style. There are hardly any jerky movements in contemporary dance.
They are more about grace, fluidity, rhythm of music and flexibility with appropriate techniques.
Different movements in contemporary dance
There are certain movements that are a part and sometimes integral to this dance form. ‘Pirouettes’, ‘pas de bouree’, and ‘tendu’ etc. are sometimes essential movements, learned by contemporary dancers. And yes, these are also very difficult movements that one needs to master in order to be called a good contemporary dancer.
Now all of this requires time, commitment, hard work and a certain level of passion. But all of these are methods that you can utilize. But when it comes to performing, contemporary dance is more about breaking the stereotypes. By being strong in your foundation and utilizing that foundation for an out of the box performance piece.
Passionate dance form
For contemporary dance, like other dance forms is a very passionate dance style. It dwells into your psyche and brings out the pain and joy you experience (internally) in your moves.
This dance form is all about bringing your inner turmoil and anguish out in the form of beautiful moves that awe and inspire. In this dance style, like others, you need to be able to connect with yourself first in order to connect with the audience.
Plus, along with the technique, there needs to be a certain sense of abandon in your contemporary dance moves. You need to let go in order to perform supremely. All of this requires, passion and most dancers who opt for contemporary do so because they want to pursue it professionally.
Most of these dancers have some sort of a background in dancing like in jazz dance or ballet etc. However, that does not mean that beginners cannot or do not learn this dance form. They too can do so. There is a contemporary dance for beginners also. The only difference is that this dance form is not just for social dancing.
You learn this dance form for passion and to be professional and performer. And herein lays its difference from most other dance forms.
Contemporary dance history: its evolution
Contemporary dance first started gaining recognition around the early 20th century when great dancers like ‘Martha Graham’ and ‘Isadora Duncan’ started exploring dance movements beyond the conventional standards. They taught exploration of freedom of dance moves and expressions without the old confines of traditional methods when telling a story.
And then, this dance form gained popularity because it tried to be different from the usual ‘Ballet’ and ‘lyrical dance forms’. It was more about using your body to tell a story and to use the space in unconventional and new ways. It was more about self-expression and letting go than to stick to a particular rulebook.
Inspiration from other dance forms
Of course, that is not to say that this dance form does not take inspiration from the classical dance styles. It is a modern dance form but it has classical roots as it has emerged by breaking free from these styles. So though it is different, it retains certain aspects of these classic styles still.
But how you use these classical styles or how you incorporate other dance styles varies. And this depends from one contemporary dancer to another. After all, contemporary dance is about the personal interpretation of the dancer.
Contemporary dance has grown and evolved throughout the 20th century. And till date, every day, week, month, and year it is evolving and changing to include moves. As well as to take inspiration from other dance forms and include them and expand as a dance style.
A major part of contemporary dance as can be inferred from before is ‘ballet’. Ballet really helps center the core of the dancer and helps to learn balance, techniques, and teachers flexibility with ease. It is important to learn at least the basics of ‘Ballet’, as it really helps us become better contemporary dancers.
Contemporary dance: Freedom of expression
However, contemporary dance is the dance of freedom, to be YOU. And while ballet helps in disciplining your body, when it actually comes down to dancing, contemporary dance is very different.
It is different because it utilizes the space in a unique and original way and not with the staple and fixed ballet moves. So you need to learn ‘Ballet’ to have a better balance and stronger core, more flexibility but you can stray as far away as possible from it when you are going to perform.
So no need to stick to the rulebook, or particular moves but you can use them to be a stronger, more creative and more evolved dancer. You can experiment and be more creative. And herein lays the strength of contemporary dance. Even though it is slightly tougher and more advanced, it offers the freedom to explore and grow as a dancer.
Types of contemporary dance styles and techniques
More than different types and examples of contemporary dance styles, it is divided into the different techniques taught by masters of modern dance. These various contemporary dance techniques are:-
- The Horton technique
- The Cunningham technique
- The Graham technique
- The Limon technique
Then the different styles are:-
- Jazz Contemporary
- Lyrical contemporary
- Indian contemporary
- Contemporary ballet
- Dance Improvisation
- Fusion style (which can include two distinct dance styles together like contemporary and salsa but these are mostly just choreographies than individual styles).
Contemporary dance and its benefits
Now that we have discussed the various types of contemporary dance styles. Let us look at the benefits of learning different contemporary dance styles. There are many physical and mental benefits of learning this dance style. And they are listed below.
- Learning contemporary dance requires you to connect with your emotions. And then to transfer them on stage in a constructive manner. It leads you to get in touch with your feelings and then to deal with them in a productive way. Let out the negative emotions to make way for the positive ones.
- It also teaches you discipline and the importance of commitment and hard work. You need to be diligent in addition to being creative and passionate in order to be a successful contemporary dancer.
- Learning this dance form also motivates you to be a better version of yourself and structures your life. In order to be a good contemporary dancer, you need to always strive to be better than the previous day. You need to constantly innovate and create, change and evolve to get better and better.
- And this sense of always learning to grow more seeps into other areas of your life. And that is a definite positive as you become a better person holistically.
Physical benefits of this dance
- There are a lot of physical benefits of learning this dance. Physically you get in a much better shape as constant dancing gives you strength and helps by keeping your weight in check.
- Also, it helps improve your flexibility.
- It also strengthens your muscles and increases your stamina. Basically, makes you more physically active and fit.
- This dance style also has taken influences from Indian Yoga, which helps calm your mind. It helps in making you sharper, calmer and more at peace with yourself.
- Also, learning contemporary dance is very good for your memory. As you need to constantly remember choreography, you tend to exercise your mental faculties at all times.
- And the best benefit is that you are following your passion, your heart. And that makes you happy because nothing gives one a greater joy than to follow their dreams.
Contemporary dance: its popularity worldwide
As we have discussed above, contemporary dance is very popular. And it is taught and learned worldwide across continents. Contemporary dance is a big part of the cultural scene in many countries.
It is hugely popular in various countries in Europe and has great institutes teaching various styles of contemporary dance. From ‘P.A.R.T.S.’ in Belgium to ‘Folkwang Universitat der Kunste’ in Germany to the ‘Institut del Teatre’ in Spain and ‘The Place’ in U.K., it is a renown, respected and appreciated dance style here.
In the United States too, there are very prestigious academies and institutes teaching contemporary dance styles. Like the famous and sought after ‘The Julliard School’ or the ‘Trisha Brown Dance Company’, there are many avenues for dancers to get their professional training from. In fact, It has a huge presence on Broadway.
This dance in media
And of course, through the massive popularity of dance brought about by media, this dance style has also benefitted. Whether it is the hugely popular ‘So you think you can dance’ reality show in the United States to ‘Britain’s got talent’ in the United Kingdom, this dance features heavily in them.
It is promoted heavily on both these platforms as well as on several other dance platforms on television, movies, and stage alike. It also features heavily in the several dance movies made worldwide. This dance is an integral and very important part of the dance scene worldwide.
It is counted as one of the top modern dance forms. And it is given a distinguished status, due to its reach and popularity the world over. Whether it is in the cultural events happening in society or in the various pop culture programs. Contemporary dance is part of them all.
Indian scene of contemporary dance and share your dance videos on Sharehiss.
Contemporary dance in India has been gaining recognition and strength since the past few years. Especially with the advent of the internet, the contemporary dance scene in India has really taken off.
More and more people are interested and are learning Contemporary in India every day. As far as institutes stand, you can learn contemporary dance in many famous institutes like ‘Danceworx’ and the ‘Big Dance Centre’ among others. Then you have Indian contemporary classes also taking place.
But all of this is mostly only concentrated in big metro cities like ‘Delhi’ and ‘Mumbai’. The interiors in our country are still not completely aware of this beautiful form. Although, with the advent of many dance reality shows like ‘Dance India Dance’ and ‘Dance Plus’, more Indians are becoming aware.
And hopefully, soon everyone will learn contemporary dance all over the country, even in the most remote of regions. As far as a career in contemporary dance is concerned in India, the prospects as of now are very limited. This is one of the contemporary dance facts.
Earn a living through contemporary dance
There are broadly only two ways to earn a living while being a contemporary dancer in India.
- One is by becoming a teacher (in some dance Institute) or by opening your own dance institute.
- By becoming a choreographer for events, shows or in Bollywood.
In order to expand the scene of contemporary dance in India, we have created this artistic sharing platform called Sharehiss. Here share your dance videos, comment, like and follow other people whose videos you enjoy watching. Have an interactive discussion on this platform.
So share your contemporary dance videos to Sharehiss. And we will display your talent to the world on this platform.