The History of Contemporary Dance

Aakrithi, Dance Blogger

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Contemporary dance is a style of expressive dance that combines elements of several dances. Contemporary was originated and was arising from the U.S and Europe. Merce Cunningham is the first one to develop an attitude towards Contemporary and establish it.  This started during the 1878s to the 1927s. This dance style focuses on floorwork, using gravity to pull them down to the floor.

Contemporary dancing is often in barefoot which makes the dancer’s leg stronger. Contemporary dance can be performed to many different types of music such as jazz and ballet music. There is a range of different characteristics of contemporary dance. Most notably that it is firstly not a technique but rather an entire genre of dance. It includes a bit of Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical and Modern dance.A common thing about it is the strong leg work similar to Ballet. Lyrical dancing is a style that resembles ballet. It incorporates the technical elements of classical ballet with the freedom, fluidity, expressiveness and airier aspects of jazz, as well as contemporary and modern dance. This style is based on choreography and self-interpretation of the music. Contemporary dance mainly stresses on improvisation.


During Contemporary dance rehearsals, students will wear a leotard with spandex shorts and a tank top or t-shirt over the leotard. Students often dance barefoot, but may also opt for jazz shoes, ballet shoes or foot paws if they prefer.


The pioneers of contemporary dance are:

  • Loïe Fuller. Illinois-born Fuller became all the rage in Paris in the 1890s with her “Serpentine Dance,” with flowing silks and colored lighting. …
  • Ruth St. Denis. …
  • Martha Graham. …
  • Katherine Dunham. …
  • Alvin Ailey. …
  • Merce Cunningham. …
  • Mark Morris
  • Paul Taylor.

If you want to see a  real hero in contemporary watch Merce Cunningham videos on YouTube.

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The History of Contemporary Dance