What is the difference between contemporary dance
and modern ballet?

by Vladislav

Hello, Maria!

My name is Vladislav. I'm 23 years old. I'm from Russia, from Saint-Petersburg. I began to dance two years ago, but I decided that dancing and creating ballets is my homage due. I have a question for you. What is the difference between contemporary dance and modern ballet? What do they have in

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and modern ballet?

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May 31, 2012
Answer from Maria
by: Maria

Dear Vladislav,

Before answering to your question, I think it is important to consider that there are many different styles of both contemporary dance and modern ballet. To have a wider and concrete answer of this, we would need to define of which styles we are talking about.

However, I'd say that the main difference is that modern ballet is made up with ballet formed dancers, while contemporary dance may use many type of dancers, including ballet formed dancers too.

Other factors may determine the use of that categories, like for example the institutional frame in which the dance is produced. The Saint Petersburg Ballet (I mean the company) will probably call its new repertoires 'modern ballets', regardless of the aesthetical features of the pieces.

On the other hand, a contemporary dance company could create a version of the Swan Lake and insist that it is not a ballet, because of the dancing technique used, its innovative dramaturgical proposal, etc. etc.

The aesthetical features that are attributed to the words 'contemporary dance', 'ballet' and 'modern' are many. They go from dramaturgical issues, choreographic vocabulary, performing frames, creative methodologies, even political positions and so forth.

To better understand this topic, it would be useful to first deepen in the general knowledge of the different styles and specific artistic projects of related artists.

If you wish to go on with this, you could start by reading our pages about dance history. There are aesthetical features described there that will help you start making your own conclusions. Here are the links:

Contemporary dance history

Modern dance history

Ballet history

I hope this helps.

Warm regards,


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