Contemporary Dance History

The earliest moments of known human history such as ancient rituals, spiritual gatherings, and social events were accompanied by dance. The dance due to his expressions and pleasure became a part of our nature.  The origin of the dance is the earliest moments when the first African tribes covered themselves in war-paint and spread the dance to all corners of the world. Dancing is one of the most expressive forms of communication. Dancing has not left some primary clues for its origins. The scientists look for secondary pieces of evidence such as stone carvings, written words, and paintings. Ancient paintings of Greece speak a lot of the practice of dance. In Europe, the dancing was not in practice before the Renaissance. The arrival of Renaissance brought many new styles of dancing in fashion.

Contemporary Dance

It is an expressive dance that combines the styles of many other dances. This dance style has a major focus on the floor work. The use of gravity by the dancer to pull themselves down to the floor is a common practice of this dance. This dance is mostly performed bare-footed. So, for this, the leg of the dancer must be stronger. This dance can be performed on many different types of music such as jazz and ballet. Some of the characteristics of contemporary dance are:

  • Contemporary dance is not a technique but rather a genre of dance.
  • It includes Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical and Modern dance.
  • This dance stresses on improvisation.
  • It is based on choreography and self-interpretation.
  • It works on techniques of classical ballet and fluidity and freedom of jazz.
  • It has strong leg work similar to Ballet.
  • Mostly the dance is performed bare-footed. The dancer can also wear jazz shoes or foot paws.
  • The dancers wear leotards and a t-shirt mostly to perform contemporary dance.

The need for contemporary dancing

In the 1980s many dancers did not follow the strict techniques of ballet and jazz. The new dancers wanted to explore the world of dancing with new techniques and styles. The dancers decided not to use the fixed conventional moves. The transformed the dancing styles and developed new styles. Those new forms of dancing styles include:

  • Quick oppositional moves
  • Shifting alignments
  • Dynamics
  • Expressions of raw emotions
  • Systematic breathing
  • Lying on floor
  • Non-standing positions

The origin of these dancing positions can be found in the era of Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, and Merce Cunnigham. They all wanted to ignore all the conventional dance movements. The start of contemporary dance can also be found in the techniques of Zen Buddhism and Indian Health Yoga. They also include various dance philosophies. The origin extends to the world with development in Europe and North America in the first 60 years of the 20th century. The dancing technique was crafted by various masters.

How contemporary dance originated?

Contemporary dance is a phenomenon that was introduced to counter the modern dance and ballet. The contemporary dance techniques change every day. It is a mixture of different body movements. All the different types of dancing techniques performed rhythmically are called contemporary dancing styles. Contemporary dance is a mixture of ballet and modern dance. So, to know the origin of contemporary dancing has a look at the origin of modern and ballet dancing.

Origin of ballet dancing

Ballet is a first dancing technique that started in the 15th century. It was considered a Royal dance. The aristocrats performed short dances during their dinners and meetings. Now ballet dancing has undergone many changes. The ballet dancing was banned for women. Now, this dancing includes short dresses and slippers as a costume.

Origin of modern dancing

Modern dancing was originated in the U.S and Germany as a counter of classical ballet. The modern dancing includes the movements of ancient civilizations. These dancers also used non-western movements. In this dance, most of the dancers do not wear shoes. It is different from ballet. As in ballet dancing the movements are light and dancing is done by keeping the back straight. The movements in modern dancing are earth-bound. In ballet the movements are air-bound. 

As contemporary dancing is a mixture of ballet and modern dance so it contains all the techniques of both the dances. It is a hybrid form of dancing. Contemporary dance includes all the advancements in the field of dance from the 1950s to the date. This dance includes the arrangement of different choreographic techniques. It is laid on the foundation of both the ballet and the modern dance. It is sometimes called a post-modern dancing technique.


Who introduced contemporary dance?

The contemporary was introduced to the worldwide audience by Martha Graham. She had a seven-decade long career. Her dance styles and choreography techniques made her famous. She wanted to show the world that contemporary dancers should embrace their freedom.

Pioneers of contemporary dance

The list of the pioneers of contemporary dance includes the name of the real hero of the contemporary dance who is Merce Cunningham. Some are dancers are:

  • Ruth St. Denis
  • Martha Graham
  • Katherine Dunham
  • Alvin Ailey
  • Merce Cunnigham
  • Mark Morris
  • Paul Taylor 

Working of famous contemporary dancers

  • Martha Graham:

Introduced contemporary dancing worldwide. Her choreographic techniques have made her famous like other legends such as Picasso, Stravinski and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Martha Graham

  • Merce Cunnigham:

Refined the work of Martha Graham. He did many improvements and expanded the contemporary dancing technique. He used many Avant-grade dancing techniques. He gave education to many dancers worldwide. Those dancers have preserved his techniques up till now. He was regarded as one of the greatest creative forces in American dance.

Merce Cunnigham

  • Lester Horton:

Managed to include all the famous techniques of modern jazz and Native American dance in his style. He trained many modern dancers. He was of the view that the conventional style of dancing should not be followed. He gave a combination of different dancing styles. He is a very influential figure of contemporary dancing style. 

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Author: Sky Hoon
Into Watching Tik Tok Dancing. He loved to watch creative Tik Tok Dancing that show a person's personality. Created this blog to learnt more about dancing.
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