Contemporary Dance

Thus, what is contemporary dance? The word ‘contemporary’ means ‘modern’, belonging to the present moment. So, you may ask what is special about the dancing style that has this name. You may also argue that all dances performed today are contemporary. However, you are looking for this style but not anything else, so you may need an exact contemporary dance definition.


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      Therefore, we want to explain the characteristic features of contemporary dance as a specific style, belonging to one of the following large groups:

      - ballet (classical);
      - modern and contemporary;
      - hip-hop and other styles of street dance;
      - Latin, ballroom (standard European), and social dance;
      - folk dance.

      We hope you won’t get confused while choosing the style for your party or your personal development needs with our contemporary dance troupes for hire near me. Hips Don’t Lie is ready to help you with whatever you want to do - hire a contemporary dance troupe for your special event or master this perfect set of movements and emotions yourself.

      What Stands Behind Contemporary Dance?

      This style of expressive and highly emotional dancing came into existence at the beginning of the 20th century. It was the prominent dancers’ reaction to rigidity and rule-centered aspects of ballet dancing. It has collected the elements of many styles from all over the world but its basics originate from ballet, modern dance, and jazz.

      You can notice that contemporary dance can be performed to any style of music, and its movements involve the elements from street dance, Asian and African dances, and even from martial arts and yoga. When you practice a contemporary dance routine, you will learn a wide range of techniques and elements that help you explore and develop your creativity and emotional perception by connecting your mind and body via smooth and fluid dance movements.

      Contemporary is very popular in the USA, Canada, and Europe nowadays, so it’s no wonder you are so interested in it. Learn more about this style and make a closer acquaintance with its characteristics and the opportunities this wonderful dance can provide to everyone, and dance contemporary to develop your inner self.

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      Why Is Contemporary Dance So Special?

      So, what is contemporary dance? It is a merge of the most prominent techniques from various styles and genres that focuses on the floorwork rather than on the legwork and pointe. Improvisation is its key feature and a great chance for dancers to express themselves. Its versatility and perfection allow for exploring the close connection between mind and spirit, and the human body. Dancers in contemporary express their emotions and perception of the world via their movements and breath while adding a lot of innovation to existing techniques. This approach evokes a lot of emotions in the audience. That is why this style is so popular and highly appreciated at different festivals and special events and contemporary dance acts for hire make up the best solutions.

      A contemporary is also a unique form of storytelling, and dancers become mediums between the characters and events they replay and spectators. Each set of movements is a personified story or clear translation of abstract ideas, ethical values, or social issues that stand beyond time boundaries. Dancers usually perform with bare feet and wear costumes that reflect the dance emotions and topics the music and movements are conveying. The artists can perform to any music, even spoken poems, or in complete silence.

      Performers emphasize the torso but not the legs in this dance. It is one more characteristic feature that adds a lot to this style's continuous development beginning from the mid-20th century. They use unpredictable movements coming from non-western cultures, such as African folk dances or Japanese Butoh, to create the best contemporary dance performance. The abrupt changes in rhythm, speed, and direction make contemporary dance everyone’s favorite because these changes can touch the deepest and most concealed feelings and emotions.

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      A Word About Contemporary Dance History

      No one can exactly say when the contemporary dance started. It appeared in the 20s-30s of the 20th century when some prominent dancers and choreographers decided to break the boundaries of classical ballet dance. The style gained popularity throughout the century and by the 1980s, it acquired characteristics that didn’t follow the strict rules of composing routines. The contemporary dancers of that time started exploring new movements and merging the dancing styles from across Europe and practices of Eastern philosophy.

      contemporary dance style 1

      The most prolific contributor to the changes in traditional ballet was Merce Cunnigham, an American dancer, and choreographer, who had made an attempt to bridge the gap between music and movements. His approach is known as the Cunningham technique, and it became the basis for his well-known dance school and contemporary dance company. Dancers learned rhythmic accuracy, spacial awareness, and coordination between the torso and legwork there.

      There were other pioneers of the style in the history of contemporary dance. Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Alvin Ailey, and Jose Limon were the most well-appreciated and loved by true dance enthusiasts. The Canadian dance school follows the principles introduced by Merce Cunningham, and Hips Don’t Lie is one of their most devoted followers and a popular Canadian dance company in Toronto and GTA.

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      Who Are Contemporary Dance Choreographers?

      The role of a choreographer in a contemporary dance performance is pretty creative. Choreographers decide on the content (whether it is abstract or narrative), the choice of dancers, and the music. The role of music here differs from that in other styles. It serves as a backdrop to the dancing piece. A choreographer is also responsible for the set of costumes to highlight the main idea of the dance and make dancers’ movements more influential.

      Since contemporary dance had its roots in modern and postmodern styles, Isadora Duncan was the first ballet dancer who rejected the boring rules and techniques of classical dance as early as the beginning of the 1900s. Her aim was to embrace all the body’s natural lines and energy to produce a strong emotional impact on the audience. Other choreographers followed Isadora’s ideas and innovations, and their contribution defined contemporary dances as we see them today.

      Martha Graham, an American choreographer, is known as a pioneer of modern dance. She introduced her individual Graham technique which is based on the breathing cycle. Martha attempted to pair movements with emotions and was quite successful in it. She found her first dance company in 1926, and it is still performing these days. Any local contemporary dance group worldwide uses this technique to improve their performance.

      contemporary dancing

      The American choreographer Lester Horton started his career in the 1920s. He developed modern dance techniques based on the First Nations’ dances. He became a role model for many generations of choreographers, including Bella Lewitzky and Alvin Ailey.

      The outstanding Mexican choreographer of the mid-1900s Jose Limon was the first who established a prominent masculine role in contemporary dance. His choreography for contemporary dance groups was always thematic, related to literature, history, and the religious beliefs of different nations.

      Loie Fuller was an American dancer who invented the eye-catching serpentine dance. She introduced colored lighting, unusual silhouettes, and silk costumes in the contemporary choreography.

      Ruth St. Denis added a lot to the concept of music visualization with the help of timbre and rhythm. She believed that every dance is a spiritual act, so she introduced Asian philosophy and dance forms into her choreography.
      The prominent American choreographer Merce Cunningham developed his innovative and groundbreaking approach to contemporary dance training in the 1940s. It is distinguished by the clarity of form, spatial awareness, and rhythmic accuracy. Merce experimented with technology and sound. He partnered with his friend, the composer John Cage whose music pieces for the piano became the ground for the radical concept. It said that choreographers and composers should work separately on creating music and dance and then combine them into one performance.

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      The Role of Costumes in a Contemporary Dance Performance

      Every contemporary dancer tells us a story, and costumes enhance the effect of this story on the audience’s emotions. Therefore, creating costumes is a responsible job. That’s what we exactly do at Hips Don’t Lie together with our most creative and dedicated team of costume developers and artists. Their fascinating work makes every event in Toronto with our bright and versatile entertainment acts for hire truly memorable.

      Costumes have to ensure freedom of movement, so they use unitards, baby doll style, and handkerchief designs. Their colorful fabrics, bright decorations and ornaments, and beautiful layouts add a lot to the charism of every modern contemporary dance show.

      Techniques Used by The Most Well-Known Contemporary Dance Companies

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      So what is contemporary dancing and what skills does it develop? Contemporary dance requires specific movement philosophy and dance techniques not similar to any other style. A variety of techniques and approaches add a lot to the immense popularity of this dance. Such well-known American-rooted techniques as Graham, Humphrey-Weidman, and Horton have become the grounds for contemporary ballet, interpretive and lyrical dances, American and European modern dance, and dance improvisation. The dance techniques of Isadora Duncan and Bartenieff Fundamentals are also well-appreciated.

      contemporary dance style 4

      Contemporary dance groups train with the help of such non-dancing practices as yoga, Pilates, and corporeal mime that are part of Etienne Decroux technique, or outstanding somatic practices, including the Feldenkrais and Franklin Methods, and Alexander and Sullivan techniques. They also use such American contemporary techniques as Hawkins and Jose Limon ones, as well as postmodern methods like contact improvisation, release technique, and the most well-known and widely applied Cunningham technique that was created by the prominent American choreographer alongside his most worldwide famous dance school. There are also other contemporary and modern dance schools, like the Ailey School in New York City (Taylor technique), that use individually developed methods and approaches bringing the most prolific results.

      The contemporary dance troupe at Hips Don’t Lie has acquired the most impressive skills and knows a lot about world-famous contemporary techniques. They are eager to demonstrate their mastery to you, and our instructors will teach you this dance with the help of the most prominent traditional and brand-new approaches.


      What is the meaning of contemporary dance?
      Contemporary dance means a lot of mastery and emotional influence. It involves psychological, physical, and philosophical aspects of human life based on a mixture of traditional and modern dance and non-choreographic features. It gets you immersed in the deep compositional philosophy, history, and uniqueness, with the dancers focusing on emotions rather than on legwork as in classical dance. Another aspect of this style is creating new techniques and interpretations on the base of improvisation.

      What are the 4 types of contemporary dance?
      The most clearly distinguished types of contemporary dance are contemporary ballet, interpretive dance, dance improvisation, and lyrical dance. Though, there are many others based on the main principles and innovations developed in America and Europe.

      What are the basics of contemporary dance?
      The basics of contemporary dance are freedom of movement, the possibility of self-expression, and storytelling. They come from the traditional ballet dance style, modern and postmodern, jazz dance, and lyrical improvisation. Ballet principles are fundamental here, though contemporary is not restricted by them. That is why so many sub-styles have developed and contemporary dance teams are so varied. You can even come across contemporary ballet and contemporary jazz as different variations of this style.

      What are the 8 contemporary dances?
      Contemporary dance is meant to project a message. That is why it is continuously developing, making it difficult to distinguish the exactly classified types of dances within this style. However, these days we can speak about approximately 8 contemporary variations, including contemporary ballet, contemporary jazz, freestyle, fusion, tap, lyrical and interpretive dance, and dance improvisation.

      Which is the famous contemporary dance company?
      Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC) at Black Mountain College is the most famous contemporary dance company worldwide. Merce Cunningham formed it in 1953. There are several others, well-known and appreciated by most dance lovers. They are Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and L.A. Dance Project. If we speak about Canada and GTA, Hips Don’t Lie is among the most well-known Canadian dance companies. We will provide you with a wide spectrum of services, entertainment acts for hire, and information related to the contemporary style and help you get to know and love this amazing style.

      What is the most popular dance company?
      The most popular among the contemporary dance companies dealing with this style is Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC) at Black Mountain College. It was established by Merce Cunningham in 1953. As for Toronto and GTA, we hope that Hips Don’t Lie is the most popular dance company that provides services, dance acts for hire, eye-catching performances, and classes in many different dance styles. If you want to get more information about the contemporary dance group near me, visit our website or call us now.

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