All of us who admire dance and strive to become better at it must have encountered that petite and sprightly silver wigged girl doing a spookily intense and amazingly weird dance on Sia’s “Chandelier”.
That’s Maddie Ziegler, a dance prodigy who in an interview with EW.com describes her performance in the song as “quirky, contemporary-ish”. There are others who say that the choreography in the song is a mix of contemporary, ballet and aerobics.
How can it be so difficult to identify a dance form and why is it that everyone perceives it in their own way?
That’s the beauty and complexity of Contemporary dance. Not every barefoot dance is contemporary and not all contemporary performances are barefoot. Contemporary dance breaks free from the formality of classical dance forms. It’s all about freedom and fluid movements. Its true nature is only visible to the prudent eye.
Let’s decode contemporary dance step by step for all the beginners out there.
WHAT IS CONTEMPORARY DANCE
Wikipedia defines contemporary dance as a genre of dance performance that developed in the mid-twentieth century and has since grown to become one of the dominant genres for formally trained dancers throughout the world.
It is an amalgamation of several dance genres like classical ballet, modern, lyrical & jazz styles. Unlike other forms of dance, contemporary dance isn’t a rigid choreographic style and is open to many possibilities. This is the reason that it sometimes incorporates elements of non-western dance cultures too.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MODERN & CONTEMPORARY DANCE
Often contemporary dance is perceived to be another name for modern dance as both the dance forms have many similarities in techniques and movements. Although, there is no clear distinction between the two dance forms and in a way contemporary dance has branched out of the former, they are two different styles of dance.
Modern dance is a broad genre of the western concert or theatrical dance, primarily arising out of Germany and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is often considered to have emerged as a rejection of, or rebellion against, classical ballet. Pioneered by innovators like Martha Graham, modern dance is built around breathing, movement, contraction and release of muscles. (Wiki)
Contemporary dance, on the other hand, stresses unpredictability, expression, and freedom, while simultaneously maintaining a strong focus on technique. It requires a slow and adequate educational process of coordination, body, and skills.
Merce Cunningham, a student of Martha Graham, is often referred to as the father of contemporary dance. He built his own technique, devoid of the rigid and formal techniques and developed an abstract form of dance.
Now that we have a fair idea of what exactly constitutes contemporary dance, it’s time to understand the basic techniques and requirements to become a contemporary dancer.
HOW TO BECOME A CONTEMPORARY DANCER
Join a contemporary dance class for beginners
Look for a contemporary dance class for beginners in your vicinity. Make sure that it’s according to your age group. It’s important to look for the right class because contemporary dance progresses with each level and involves some difficult techniques. Hence, make sure that your instructor is prepared with basic techniques and routines for beginners. Don’t forget to practice at home.
Step up your workout regime and work on strengthening your core
The contemporary dance involves leaps, jumps, and many other moves which require a fluid body movement and needs the dancer to be flexible. It focuses on movements made from the torso area and hence requires a lot of strength and dexterity. Stretching, Yoga and exercises for core strengthening are absolutely essential in order to perfect your contemporary moves.
To make it easier for you here are free online fitness lessons to start with. Just register on the following links and get access to all these absolutely free.
Understand the importance of a choreographer & choreography
Choreographers are the forerunners of a dance piece in contemporary dance. They are the ones who steer the creative vision of a piece. Hence, understanding your choreographer’s aesthetics and imbibing his technique is essential for any dancer.
Contemporary dance puts a major emphasis on expression, emotions and narration. This is the reason that choreography is eccentric and the most important aspect of contemporary dance. Try and choreograph a piece at home on your favorite song and keep improvising. Make fluid movements and increase your range of motion. Brainstorm different themes. You can add various elements to your choreography or create the whole piece on a single element.
Learn Contemporary dance online
If finding a dance class near you isn’t feasible, then you can easily learn the basics through online dance classes and start your dance training at home.
You will find various step by step contemporary dance tutorials for beginners and online dance classes on Youtube but if you are on the lookout for more professional training online then you can register for the beginner and advanced courses in contemporary dance on our platform dancewithmadhuri.com.
To start with here is a beautiful rendition of the song “Aayat” from the movie Bajirao Mastani. Take this intermediate course by subscribing with us and learn from none other than Madhuri Dixit and her team.
The subscription is quite economical and will give you access to not just contemporary dance lessons but 35+ dance forms, 2200+ lessons available both in English & Hindi. You can track your progress and even get CERTIFIED.
Oh! Did we tell you that our fitness section is absolutely free?
Yes, we did! 🙂