Where did contemporary dance come from?

by Lorraine Smith
(Portsmouth )

Where did contemporary dance come from? What are its key features and how is it different from other styles of dance?

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Sep 25, 2011
Answer from Maria
by: Maria

Dear Lorraine,

Contemporary dance is known for arising first in the U.S. and Europe between the 1950s and 1970s. For expanded information regarding the history of contemporary dance, visit our special page about the topic:

Contemporary dance history

You will find the key features of contemporary dance in its definition located at our glossary. Just scroll down the page looking for the expression 'contemporary dance':

Dance terms

Those characteristics that define contemporary dance in a general way are at the same time what make it different from other styles of dance, like for example:

- No fixed choreographic vocabulary

- Importance of ethical values above the resulting product

- Use of a variety of techniques in the dancer’s training

- Production of performances or shows in all kind of public and private spaces

- Interdisciplinary working with other aesthetical languages

Though, if you observe contemporary dance more carefully, you will notice that each piece has its own characteristics, in which some aspects might vary and be influenced or taken from any other type of dance or art.

In choreographic terms, it would be easier to watch some examples to have an idea of how contemporary dance movements could be. You might like visiting our page of contemporary dance videos for this:

Contemporary dance videos

To have a really expanded answer, just feel yourself at home at contemporary-dance.org. Visit around all the different sections we have and you will find a lot of extra information!

Warm regards,


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