WHAT IS CONTEMPORARY DANCE?
con·tem·po·rary | \ kən-ˈtem-pə-ˌrer-ē , -ˌre-rē\
a. marked by characteristics of the present period
b. happening, existing, living, or coming into being during the same period of time
Contemporary Dance is a style of expressive dance informed by elements of several dance genres including modern, jazz, lyrical and classical ballet. It tends to combine the strong, controlled legwork of ballet with modern that stresses on torso. It also employs contract-release, floor work, fall and recovery, and improvisation characteristics of modern dance.
Contemporary Dance is often done in bare feet and emphasises on versatility and improvisation, unlike the strict, structured nature of ballet. The use of energy, gravity and momentum to create dynamic movement, floorwork and contact/partner work are also important elements of Contemporary Dance.
Contemporary Dance can be performed to many different styles of music, with unpredictable changes in rhythm, speed, and direction.
CONTEMPORARY DANCE TECHNIQUES
In Contemporary Dance, these is no unique group of defined movements to learn. A contemporary dance class is called, rather, a training class or a contemporary dance technique class. The goal of a contemporary class is to prepare the mind and body of the dancer for a wide range of movement possibilities: forms, qualities or dynamics.
Nonetheless, there are some common techniques we draw upon in our Contemporary Classes, including but not limited to:
Cunningham Technique is a rigorous form of training designed to create strength and flexibility of both the body and the mind. Key concepts include Torso and Legwork, Spatial Awareness and Rhythmic Accuracy.
The Limón technique is divided among various physical extremes: fall and recovery, rebound, weight, suspension, succession and isolation. These ideas can be illustrated in the way a dancer uses the floor as a place from which to rise, return to and then rise from again.
Graham technique is based on the opposition between contraction and release, a concept based on the breathing cycle which has become a "trademark" of modern dance forms. Its other dominant principle is the "spiralling" of the torso around the axis of the spine. Graham technique is known for its unique dramatic and expressive qualities and distinctive floorwork.
"I am sincerely trying now to create a dance technique based entirely upon corrective exercises, created with a knowledge of human anatomy; a technique which will correct physical faults and prepare a dancer for any type of dancing he may wish to follow; a technique having all the basic movements which govern the actions of the body; combined with a knowledge of the origin of movement and a sense of artistic design" - Lester Horton
5. Release Technique
Release technique is focused on the principles of “ease of movement” and “fluidity”. Dancers learn to minimise tension in the body to create freedom of movement. The release of body weight into the floor and the use of breath to instigate movement is part of the learning process.