You can probably picture in your mind what dance styles such as ballet, tap, salsa, or hip hop look like. This can be more difficult with contemporary dance because it is more abstract in nature, and almost deliberately defies being put in a tidy box. But it is an exciting form of dance and one that requires a huge amount of technical skill.

YouTube video
Screenshotter YouTube Halsey WithoutMeliveContemporarySabrinaLonisChoreography 359 1 e1626508813552

What is contemporary dance? Contemporary dance is a relatively modern form of dance that was developed in the mid 20th century. It was a deliberate move away from the strict structure of ballet, although ballet is still seen as its closest cousin. It is an expressive form of dance but it doesn’t always have the same narrative element that ballet does.

It is deliberately disordered and unpredictable and contemporary dancers can bring in elements from any other dance style to their choreography. Common dance styles that are used include:

  • Ballet
  • Modern
  • Jazz
  • African dance
  • Butoh

Contemporary dance is one of the core foundational dance techniques that professional dancers can learn. It requires the same legwork technique that you see in ballet, but dancers also need to learn how to improvise, learn modern dance torso techniques. and theatrical elements of performance. As you can see in the video, contemporary dance does have many elements of classical ballet but it takes it in an entirely new direction.

It is often likened to abstract art, and this comparison really does hold true. Contemporary dance is to ballet as abstract art is to the Mona Lisa. It deliberately throws away all of the formality and the structure of classical ballet and replaces it with unpredictability in direction and speed, improvisation, and sometimes a deliberate lack of any sort of narrative structure. So if you find it hard to grasp exactly what contemporary dance is, it’s because you’re not really supposed to. Contemporary dance is supposed to be impossible to define and ever-changing. And that’s what makes it so exciting.

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