so what is contemporary dance?

When I say I’m a dancer I get a mixed reaction. Especially when they ask what genre and I reply contemporary. Generally speaking people think that contemporary is and I quote ‘pretending to be a tree’ or backing dancers in a music video. To which I snort (unattractively) and reply no, I mean come on could you really envision me as a commercial dancer?

However, when I get stung with the question ‘so what is contemporary dance?’ I really don’t have an answer- or even one that would do contemporary dance justice. Because in my view, contemporary dance is whatever you could conceivably want it to be, and yes that could include pretending to be a tree or being a dancer in music video. Actually saying that, a lot of alternative/indie artists are using contemporary dance in their videos!

Take a look at:

Foals- Inhaler: or

Polica- Wandering Star

Both are very good representations of contemporary dance in music videos, and both bands are AWESOME if you haven’t heard of them!

I think contemporary dance much like contemporary art or contemporary music and can take inspiration from anything and everything. It has great scope to shed new light on everyday life, but also important issues. But having said that, contemporary dance doesn’t even have to have a stimulus, it can simply be an exploration of how movement feels or a particular image that drives the choreography.

What particularly attracts me to contemporary dance, is the ability to create articulate personal responses to anything that I want. I love that the movement can become almost irrationally abstract or simply minute gestures, which dance as a vehicle can heighten by drawing attention to it. I love that there is no boundaries, I love that improvisation is as important as rep.

It would in my opinion by pretty myopic to say that contemporary dance is a definable dance form. Therefore, contemporary dance is what ever you want it to be (this is not a definitive definition and is of course open to discussion).

What do you think?

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