The purpose of contemporary dance.

by Bruce

What is the purpose for contemporary dance?

Comments for The purpose of contemporary dance.

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Apr 12, 2011
Answer from Maria
by: Maria

Dear Bruce,

When you ask yourself about the purpose of contemporary dance, you are stating a question about the sense of art.

Each contemporary dance piece or class might have specific aims, but if we talk about contemporary dance in general, as you are doing now, we are talking about an art, just like music, painting, literature, cinema, sculpting and so forth.

Yours is an ancient philosophical question: What is art or what is art for?

Humanity has old written records of philosophers proposing answers to this. There's for example Plato, from the antique Greece, who wrote that the aesthetical component is one of the three basic elements that make up everything in the universe. In some way, before treating the question of its purpose, he says that it is an essential part of what we are.

Historians and social scientists have also recorded that ever since we have traces of humanity, there's evidence of behaviors or practices that have aesthetical purposes (which is the main feature of art, contemporary dance included).

So, just like science, art can be understood as a basic element of human configuration, regardless of its aim. Though, there are some concrete goals that are easily identifiable, depending on the perspective from which you look at it.

For example, from a linguistic point of view, you can say that art is a language, therefore a form of communication. In this sense, the purpose of contemporary dance would be the same as that of articulated language: communicate.

From a social perspective, art could be understood as a mean to create ties between people, so its purpose would be to help maintain the social unity.

From a cultural perspective, art can be seen as a way to transform or maintain anything you can imagine that has to do with our manners, ways of life, ideologies and so forth. Art would have the purpose of allowing humanity to express, change, evolve or transform itself through its interference into our lives.

You could go on and on, choosing any kind of point of view, and you will see there's always a purpose for art, even though our current western civilization has tendencies to loose awareness of its importance.

There's an old tale from a very poor Chinese man that had the custom of spending half of his money in fish and half of it in flowers at the market. One day, somebody asked him why he would accomplish such a waste. The old man answered: I need the fish to live. The PURPOSE for buying the flowers is to continue WANTING to live...

Thanks for participating with your question. I'll be happy to know what you think about my answer.

Great having you at the site. Welcome to!

Wishing you the best,


Apr 15, 2015
by: Pauly

Actually I have not much knowledge about dance and its different forms. But I know that contemporary dance is entirely different from other kinds of dance forms. After reading this post I could understand more details about contemporary dance and its purpose.

Dec 08, 2015
by: Anonymous

Contemporary is not just an art, it is a way of expressing your emotions through a dance and a song. Contemporary is mainly "do what the lyrics are saying but dramatically". Being 16 years old, and dancing contemporary, ballet, hip-hop, lyrical, character, tap, and clogging, I have learned that the most intimate one would be contemporary. You learn to let your inner feelings out to certain songs. Contemporary allows you to communicate the feelings of the dance to others who may not exactly hear the meaning just listening to it.

Jun 02, 2017
by: Anonymous

How did society respond to contemporary dance? And how did it affect certain cultures

Jun 05, 2017
Maria's reply
by: Maria

Hi there!

You are asking a very general question. To reply to this, it is necessary to have more specifications about which specific contemporary dance trend you are talking about and in which cultural and historical context. Otherwise, the answer can only try to create a theoretical idea about how dance relates to society and culture.

Please read the following chat at our forum to understand better:

The role of society in the evolution of modern and contemporary dance

: )

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