What is Contemporary Dance?
Before entering fully into the definition of the term contemporary dance it is necessary to proceed to discover the etymological origin of the two words that shape it:
-Dance, first of all, comes from French. Specifically, it emanates from “danser”, which can be translated as “dance”.
-Contemporary, secondly, derives from Latin, more exactly from “contemporaneus”, which is the result of the sum of three well-defined components: the prefix “with-“, which is synonymous with “together”; the noun “tempus”, meaning “time”, and the suffix “-aneo”, which is used to indicate relationship or belonging.
It is called dance to the act of dancing, which can develop in multiple ways. The contemporary, on the other hand, is what is part of the time in which one lives.
The idea of contemporary dance, in this context, refers to a style of classical ballet that gives greater freedom to the dancer. This form of dance emerged at the end of the nineteenth century as a reaction to the more rigid characteristics of classicism.
In contemporary dance, the dancer expresses himself through classical ballet techniques but incorporating other more modern body movements. That’s why this style is known as contemporary dance or modern dance.
Mixing multiple influences is one of the main features of contemporary dance, which can include nonlinear forms of storytelling and can even bet on multimedia tools to complement choreography.
While classical dance is based on structured and already coded steps, contemporary dance leaves room for innovation and allows the dancer and choreographer to exploit their creativity. Transgression, in this sense, is considered a positive value, unlike in classical ballet.
Specialists distinguish between the American school and the European school of contemporary dance. In turn they mark the existence of different generations that were modifying the precepts.
American choreographer and dancer Isadora Duncan, born in 1877 and deceased in 1927, is often noted as the founder of contemporary dance. Self-taught, he moved away from classical ballet by incorporating movements linked to expressionism.
However, we cannot overlook that, besides Duncan, there are other figures at the international level who also left their mark on contemporary dance and who helped to give it the characteristics that it possesses.
We are referring, for example, to figures of the likes of the choreographer and dancer Doris Humphrey (1895 – 1958) or Martha Graham (1894 – 1991). The latter, who was also a dancer and choreographer, is considered to have left as important a mark on contemporary dance as Stravinsky did in music or Malaga Pablo Picasso in the plastic arts.
However, other names could be added to these women, such as those of master and dancer José Limón, producer and dancer Marie Louise Fuller, choreographer and dancer Paul Taylor, dancer and choreographer Kurt Jooss or Vera Skonel, etc.