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What is contemporary dance and where did it come from?

Contemporary is an expressive style of dance that combines a mix of modern, jazz, lyrical

and ballet. Unlike the strict traditional structure of ballet, it focuses on and embraces

innovation and improvisation enabling the dancer to connect the mind and body through

fluid and dynamic movements.


Although it uses the strong controlled leg work of ballet, the techniques used in

contemporary dance are normally in line with one’s natural lines and energy allowing more

creative and expressive movement. It breaks the traditional limitations of classical dance,

allowing unpredictable changes in rhythm, speed and direction and can be performed to

many different styles of music.


Until the end of the 19 th Century, ballet was the dominant dance performance. That was until some dancers decided to break away from the ballet mould and develop dance styles of their own based more on emotional and physical expression. One of these dancers was Isadora Duncan, nicknamed the ‘Mother of contemporary dance.’ She believed that dance should be a natural movement with emotions encircling all that life has to offer; joy and sadness.


Contemporary dance became more popular thanks to another modern dance pioneer and

teacher, Martha Graham, who introduced it to the world and paved the way for a new

contemporary technique that influences how we dance today.


Contemporary is a form of dance that can be learned and enjoyed by anyone.

It can help increase body awareness and reduce stress as well as improve balance,

flexibility, and core strength.

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