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Versatile Body Movement

The name "Contemporary Dance" describes a range of techniques and styles used in classes, workshops and dance choreography. Contemporary dance was developed in the early 20th century as a reaction against the rigid techniques of ballet. ease of movement using the body's natural lines and energy, allowing a greater range and fluidity of movement than conventional dance techniques

Contemporary dance is characterised by its versatility: contemporary can be danced to almost any style of music, or united with other dance forms to create new styles of movement. Contemporary seeks to work with the natural alignment of the body, and is therefore safe and accessible for beginners. At the same time, the ease of movement promoted by contemporary dance technique allows experienced dancers to push new boundaries of body movement.

Four Main Techniques

The are Cunningham (named after teacher and choreographer Merce Cunningham, focusing on the architecture of the body in space, rhythm and articulation.)

Graham (named after Martha Graham) - focusing on the use of contraction, release, fall and recovery. The style is very grounded and the technique visibly contrary to the sylphlike, airborne ideals of ballet.

Limon (named after Jose Limon) - exploring use of energy in relation to gravity and working with weight in terms of fall, rebound, recovery and suspension.

Release - placing emphasis on minimising tension in the search for clarity and fluidity and efficient use of energy and breath.we release through the joints and muscles to create ease of movement, releasing the breath to aid the release of the body. A great relaxation technique as well as a dance style.

The origins of western contemporary dance can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th century. While the big names in modern dance all date from this time period, the influences that inspired these contemporary dance founders go back for centuries, and are not limited to the western world

While many dance genres, including jazz and lyrical, focus on flexibility and the mastery of various structured steps, the technique in contemporary dance is focused much more upon unconventional choreographic moves that were devised in the first 60 years of the 20th century by various masters of the craft. The techniques were unconventional because they moved away from the lyrical movements of ballet and other classical dance forms. In addition, they took influences from non-western dance cultures, such as the down-to-earth bent knees of African style dancing. Using these elements and more, the earliest contemporary dancers were revolutionary in breaking away from classical, traditional dance forms

We could say that both ballet and modern dance are ancestors of contemporary dance. Ballet creates the general concert dance frame work and technical knowledge used or refused by contemporary dance. Modern dance is at the same time its ‘anti-reference’ and kind of ‘mother in law’. So, there’s a contemporary dance history before the 1950s: that one of ballet and modern dance, which somehow serves society to make emerge contemporary dance.

In a contemporary dance class, the instructor works on self awareness. This will enable you to harmonize your mind and body, advanced dancers find it easier to do this compared to beginners.

Some key concepts:

  • Abstract movement that do not necessarily tell a story
  • Multiple and simultaneous actions
  • “Independence between dance and music”
  • Suspension of perspective and symmetry in ballet scenic frame perspective such as front, center and hierarchies
  • Unpredictable movement with great speed and changing of rhythm and directions
  • Classical leg technique
  • Choreography that appears disordered but relies on technique
  • Creative freedom
  • Dance to be dance, not analyzed
  • What moves and steps are you likely to experience in a Contemporary Dance class?

They could be anything… influences from Ballet, Jazz, Tango, Street, Samba, Jive, Ballroom, you name it, it could turn up in a Contemporary Dance class. It is all designed to encourage freedom of movement and personal interpretation while weaving in many varied and demanding steps and positions.

Initially it becomes difficult to co-ordinate feet and arms together, do one or the other for a while until you’ve mastered it and then just add them together. There are many different dances and experiences in Contemporary Dance. It will be a whole routine of a fusion of many dances, choreographed. Contemporary dance employs many modern dance techniques such as contact-release, fall and recovery, floor work, improvisation, and lifts in partnering

Dance techniques and movement philosophies employed in contemporary dance may include:

  • Contemporary ballet
  • Alexander Technique
  • Bartenieff Fundamentals
  • Contact Improvisation
  • Dance Improvisation
  • Feldenkrais method
  • Hawkins technique
  • Jose Limon technique
  • Horton technique
  • Humphrey-Weidman technique
  • Graham technique
  • Cunningham technique
  • Corporeal mime - Etienne Decroux technique
  • Pilates
  • Release Technique
  • Yoga
  • Sullivan Technique