Contemporary... (when did it start?)

by Sophey

What year did contemporary dance start?

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May 30, 2011
Answer from Maria
by: Maria

Dear Sophey,

There's not one only and exact year given to the birth of contemporary dance. Actually, around the time this name started to be used in Europe, an historian named Georges Arout published a book with the title "The contemporary dance". That was in 1955.

At that moment, this man intended to refer to the dance of his time, because as you know, the word 'contemporary' applied to other things (not dance) means 'something that happens at the same time of something else'.

In 1980, another book by John Franklin Koenig is published in Paris with the same title. But, again the word contemporary refers to the dance of that period and it is not used as a category to talk about this specific type or style of dance.

It seems that only towards the end of the 80's, there's a wide spread consensus about the use of this word, to refer to this type of dance that is different from what had been called till then 'modern dance'.

But, the existence of this artistic trend had already been recognized since the 1950's. From a general point of view, that is more or less the moment of the birth of contemporary dance. It is pointed by dance history as an artistic trend that was developed mainly in the U.S. by figures like Merce Cunningham or the so called 'post-modern' dancers.

There are wider explanations in the following pages of our site:

Contemporary Dance History

Modern Dance History

The handy e-book of contemporary dance history

I hope this is what you were looking for.

Wishing you the best,


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