What is Contemporary Dance?

Many Indigenous dancers featured in the first season of PULSE incorporate or specialize in the style known as contemporary dance. However, many different dance styles can fall under this categorization (including contemporary ballet).

Contemporary dance comes from the modern and post-modern dance traditions of the early and mid 20th century which started as a reaction and rebellion to the strict forms of classical ballet. There was desire to move away from the codified technique, to break all the rules and to experiment with moving bodies through space to music in new and exciting ways. This movement towards a freer and more natural style started almost simultaneously and separately in both Europe and America.

There are no prescribed movements for contemporary dance as it is constantly evolving and changing and borrowing from other styles from all over the world. It tends to be a very emotional dance style with a focus on storytelling and interpretive choreography. It can include totally new forms and moves such as “quick oppositional motions, shifting alignments, expressions of raw emotions, systematic breathing, dancing moves preformed in non-standing positions (for example lying on the floor), and in general trying to find the absolute limits of the human form and physique.” http://www.dancefacts.net/dance-types/contemporary-dance/

Contemporary dance is not less challenging than ballet, but it is more accessible than its more formal predecessor. Dancers with less technique or training can still enjoy this kind of dancing without the need to perfect the turn out of their legs. This has also helped drive the continued popularity of contemporary dance even though it can still demand a lot both emotionally and physically, taking dancers and audiences to unexpected places, provoking new thoughts and feeling.