Contemporary dance is a a blanket term that covers a broad variety of dance techniques and approaches to choreography. It can be difficult to pin down what contemporary dance is, because it is constantly evolving as teachers and choreographers push the boundaries of dance.
The looseness in the definition of contemporary dance can make it tricky for an adult considering taking up dance classes to decide if contemporary is a good fit.
In this article, I'll be addressing 7 myths about contemporary dance that might help you decide if this is a dance form you'd like to explore.
Myth 1: contemporary dance is only for the young and flexible
One of the most common misconceptions about contemporary dance is that it is reserved for the young and flexible. It's true that many professional contemporary dancers start training at a young age, but that doesn't mean it's an art form exclusively for the youth. In fact, contemporary dance is for everyone, regardless of age or physical ability.
Contemporary dance celebrates individuality and diversity, making it perfectly suited for adults who may have never danced before or who are exploring dance as a new form of self-expression. As you delve into contemporary dance, you'll find that it embraces a wide range of movements, from fluid and graceful to powerful and grounded. With the guidance of experienced teachers, adults of all ages can discover their unique movement vocabulary and connect with the art form on a deeply personal level.
Myth 2: you need dance experience to try contemporary dance
Another common misconception is that you need prior dance experience to venture into contemporary dance. While previous dance training can undoubtedly be beneficial, contemporary dance is open to beginners as well. It offers an opportunity for adults who may have never stepped foot in a dance studio to explore movement in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.
Contemporary dance encourages participants to express their emotions and ideas through movement, providing an inclusive space where everyone's experiences are valued. Whether you have a background in ballet, jazz, or any other dance style, or if you're completely new to dance, contemporary dance offers a platform for creative exploration and self-discovery.
Myth 3: contemporary dance is abstract and hard to understand
Contemporary dance is often associated with abstract movements and avant-garde choreography, leading some to believe that it is challenging to understand. While contemporary dance can indeed encompass abstract themes and experimental choreography, it is not solely confined to this style.
Contemporary dance is a diverse genre that draws inspiration from various sources, including personal experiences, social issues, and everyday life. Choreographers and dancers often infuse their work with relatable themes, emotions, and narratives that resonate with the audience, making it accessible and engaging for people of all backgrounds.
Myth 4: contemporary dance is just free movement
One prevalent misconception is that contemporary dance is merely improvised free movement without any structure or technique. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. While contemporary dance does value creative expression, it is grounded in solid technical training.
Contemporary dance classes actually teach a variety of techniques that provide dancers with a strong foundation. Some of these techniques include elements from various dance styles such as ballet, modern dance, and jazz. By learning proper alignment, movement principles, and body mechanics, dancers gain a greater sense of freedom and control in their movements. Technique empowers dancers to execute movements with precision, strength, and fluidity, enabling them to fully express themselves through the art form.
Myth 5: floor work is difficult and limiting
Some individuals may feel intimidated by the idea of floor work in contemporary dance, assuming that it requires advanced skills and flexibility. However, floor work is a valuable aspect of contemporary dance that can be adapted to accommodate different bodies and mobility levels.
In contemporary dance, floor work is not about doing complex acrobatics but rather exploring the connection between the body and the ground. It can be an excellent way for people who feel limited in their mobility to become more mobile and capable. Floor work allows dancers to discover new movement possibilities, build strength, and develop a unique vocabulary that enhances their overall dance practice.
Myth 6: contemporary dance classes are the same as contemporary dance performances
Another misconception is that contemporary dance classes mirror the intensity and complexity of professional performances. However, contemporary dance classes primarily focus on building fundamental skills and physical capabilities that lay the groundwork for more intricate movements.
In a contemporary dance class, dancers engage in exercises to develop strength, flexibility, balance, control, and range of movement. These foundational elements enable dancers to execute a wide range of movements and prepare them for more advanced choreography in the future. While classes emphasise technique and skill development, performances often showcase the artistic creativity that emerges from the fusion of technique and personal expression.
Myth 7: contemporary dance is exclusively for the fit and able-bodied
One of the most harmful misconceptions is that contemporary dance is only for the fit and able-bodied individuals. In reality, contemporary dance celebrates the uniqueness of each body and encourages dancers to embrace their physicality, regardless of their abilities.
Dance is a powerful form of expression that can be adapted to accommodate different bodies and physical capabilities. Inclusive dance classes and choreography exist to make contemporary dance accessible to individuals with disabilities. Contemporary dance classes allow for a range of movement possibilities that can be adapted for different bodies.
You can find out more about contemporary dance by reading our other blog posts on the topic. Even better, you can download our 76 page, illustrated ebook 'Unveiling the mysteries of contemporary dance.'
Want to join a contemporary dance class? Check out our timetable and choose a class that suits you.
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