Contemporary Dance What is it? - Now there's a question...
is Contemporary Dance?
I could tell you that, I wouldn't have to dance it." Isadora Duncan, asked what one of
her dances meant.
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. Pioneers such as Isadora Duncan
and Martha Graham searched for ease of movement using
the body's natural lines and energy, allowing a greater
range and fluidity of movement than conventional dance
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
The four main techniques used in contemporary dance are:
(named after teacher and choreographer Merce Cunningham,
focusing on the architecture of the body in space, rhythm
What does that mean? Cunningham
uses the idea of the body's own "line of energy"
to promote easy, natural movement. Richard Alston uses
Cunningham technique in his graceful choreography.
(named after Martha Graham) - focusing on the use of contraction,
release, fall and recovery.
What does that mean? Graham
technique is characterised by floorwork and the use of
abdominal and pelvic contractions. The style is very grounded
and the technique visibly contrary to the sylphlike, airborne
ideals of ballet.
(named after Jose Limon) - exploring use of energy in
relation to gravity and working with weight in terms of
fall, rebound, recovery and suspension.
What does that mean? Limon
technique uses the feeling of weight and "heavy energy"
in the body, and movement is instigated using breath to
lift, and swings through the body to create and halt movement.
It also feels very nice to perform!
- placing emphasis on minimising tension in the search
for clarity and fluidity and efficient use of energy and
What does that mean? A
bit like it sounds - in Release technique, 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.
Two or more contemporary techniques may be combined in
class or in a piece of choreography.
Improvisation focuses on the investigation of movement
and its relation to performance. Development of individual
movement material is facilitated through a variety of
Contact improvisation describes a duet dance form characterised
by weight exchange, fluid movement and touch. Partners
improvise using the natural movement of the body.
Choreography workshops are designed to encourage personal
investigation into ideas suitable for choreography.