Why Must Contemporary Dance Be Appreciated?

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Contemporary Dancers

Contemporary Dancers

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Contemporary dance is a genre of dance that involves a fluid free flowing movement of the body while playing with gravity. It is a concoction of various dance genres like classical, jazz, ballet, modern and lyrical. This genre of dance is also known as floor dance because the dancers work in perfect tandem with gravity. This versatile dance style is a form of creative expression of the body’s innermost feelings that shares a common platform with yoga, meditation and body conditioning. Contemporary dancers explore the space around them and stretch out to their maximum potential while creating art with their movements on a stage. Contemporary dance styles and techniques are a fusion of the discipline, control and poise of traditional dance forms like ballet with a hint of free movement and spatial expansion of modern, experimental dance modes like Jazz.

Contemporary Dance

Females performing Contemporary Dance

The pioneers of contemporary dance were Martha Graham, Isadora Duncan and Merce Cunningham and Lester Horton in the mid-20th century and have grown to be one of the most dominant genres for dancers all around the world.

Origin of Contemporary dance

Martha graham was the pioneer of contemporary dance who believed that dance was more of an art form that should be grounded and in synchronisation with the human experience as opposed toexisting as just another form of entertainment. She gave a realistic meaning to dance through the contemporary art and this sowed the seeds of the free flowing dance movement.

Contemporary dance expanded when new age dancers did not want to adhere to conventional dance forms like classical ballet and wanted to break free from the norms that limited their potential of movement. These dancers wanted to explore the spaces of revolutionary &unconventional movements gathered from different dance styles around the world. The pioneers of contemporary dance wanted to expose this unconventional dance style and wanted contemporary dancers to embrace freedom, break old dance norms and explore the limits of the human body through a visual expression of feelings.

Contemporary dancers do not follow fixed moves, but instead adapt new styles from different dances, develop new forms and dynamics such as quick oppositional moves, shifting alignments, expressions of raw emotions and systematic breathing in co-relation to the gravity of the floor.

Technical aspects of Contemporary dance

Contemporary dance as a form of art differs from person to person and from culture to culture. Contemporary dance techniques are concerned with enhancing self-awareness from which the movements are executed. The dance first takes place in the mind of a dancer before he/she can display it physically.

The different techniques associated with contemporary dance are as follows:

Release Technique – This dance technique lets the individual release any unnecessary tension used while moving.  The release dance technique is associated with therapeutic movement researches that come or make use of medical knowledge.

Body Mind Centering technique – This dance technique is similar to Yoga. It places strong emphasis on breath, body alignment, and mental control. This encompasses adequate usage of tension and conducting minds while dancing.

Contact improvisation – is a partner dance form based on the physical principles of touch, momentum, shared weight, and most quintessentially – following a shared point of contact. The form was founded in 1972 by Steve Paxton. This dance practice explores the skills of falling, rolling and counterbalance, lifting using minimal effort, centering and breathing techniques, along with responsiveness to the partner’s surroundings.

Flying low – This technique focuses mainly on a dancer’s relationship with the floor. The technique utilizes simple movement patterns that involve breathing, speed and the release of energy throughout the body in order to activate the relationship between the center and the joints, moving in and out of the ground more efficiently by maintaining a centered state.

Health benefits of Contemporary dance

This dance form that is also known as ‘modern dance’ gained massive popularity in India after the onset of reality T.V shows like ‘Dance India Dance’ & ‘Jhalak Dikhla Ja’. This dance form is not only beautiful from the outside but it also possesses various health benefits for the body, mind and soul.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Activate your current state of mind – The everyday routine tends to lock us in a box. This dance form lets you open up, explore and create using nothing but movements that come from within. It lets you stretch and flex limitlessly.
  • Physical toning of the body – This dance form helps you push your boundaries as your body gradually adapts to the movements and moulds itself into a flexible form, thus toning the muscles and body holistically.
  • Development of versatility and improvisation – This form of dance can be performed with any sort of music without any rules. You can pick out problems, life situations, contemporary issues and recreate the display through dance.
  • Mind and body connection – This form of dance lets you unplug from your emotional baggage and makes you focus on the present. It takes your mind and body towards a state of trance where you experience freedom while exerting flexibility of the body and mind.

Contemporary dance is also regarded as art owing to its creative nature and is displayed at art festivals like Kala Ghoda. Embracing this form of dance restores a perfect mind, body and spiritual balance to a human being.

Image Credits: Flickr and Flickr

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