Contemporary dance is an art whose working material is the movement of humans. It doesn't have fixed or established movement patterns but it's rather in a continuous search for new forms and dynamics. Therefore its dancers make use of varied modern and classical dance techniques to train. It produces performances or shows in conventional and non conventional stages (such as theaters or public and private places), having a frequent dialogue with other aesthetic languages such as audiovisual technologies, visual or fine arts, lightning, architecture, music, circus and others.
Contemporary dance is something really personal, it's about trying to show intimates perceptions, to translate our vision of the world and whatever affects us, to express our opinions and emotions. Contemporary dance is fragile but powerful by the emotions that dancers and audience feel. It requires imagination, focuses on energy and situates the body in time and space. We use the logical of the body to reach a fluid, free and pleasant movement. The dancers will acquire a great knowledge of the body in an intuitive way.
Since the 20th century in Europe and in the USA, choreographers have been developing new ideas and exploring new paths. They wanted to break the classical rules to allow the human body to express itself in a freer way. Therefore they started to use every day life gesture because the content or theme brought up started to be more important than the shape, the emotion they want to communicate will decide of the movements and the technique they will use.
Painting is sometimes very close to dance: in abstract painting we consider the way the work was made more important than the result. We can feel what kind of emotion the artist felt when he created the work by looking at the painting. The words "contemporary dance" don't describe a style or a particular kind of dance, but a particular state of mind. We can consider this state as being aware of the human being and of the world around us. The contemporary dancer is going to be facing main questions and will express himself by movements and emotions. The style of the work will totally be depending on the choices and approach of the choreographer and the dancers. Dance mixes every single element in life:
It mixes a physical experiment with an existential experiment.
It makes people work as a team and alone.
It's about rules and breaking the rules.
Dance is an art that uses the body as a way of expression. The communication set between the dancer and the audience is going through at least three levels:
The physical level is all the body can do and includes all kinds of things: energy, balance, out of balance, weight, breathing, etc... all those different qualities of movement is already communication.
The emotional level, the sensibility: what the dancer feels when he executes the movement, and how the audience feels in its heart and sensations.
The theatrical level, the social appearance: who are those people on stage, they all have a different physical appearance as well as a different background, and different personalities. All those differences will make the audience have a different sensation: this is also communication. The modern poetry communicates also at different levels; the words don't necessarily have a first meaning but leave a feeling in our brain. We can either forget it or look through the words until it makes sense to us. If we are aware and open to all those impressions, communication will go over the simple meaning of the gesture. The dancer must question himself about the work, about the theme brought up by the choreographer and must work with him and not only for him. He will be facing with the theme of the work and must bring out his personality. The choreographer won’t just ask the dancers to tell a story about the theme but to experiment the theme with their own body, background and feelings.
It's really important to know in which conditions the work has been created to understand it: the historical, political, social and cultural context. Each culture brings a different sensibility, uses and understands the body in a different way. For example what is vulgar or not depends on our culture. Art is universal, knowing the context brings more details, a better understanding. Since we were born, we have been influenced by our education, by everything that surrounds us, architecture or even by the weather. Leaving our country or living in a completely different surrounding is discovering how much our thoughts were influenced. We will be able to reconsider our prejudices. We must not think that our culture is the best and the only one in the world. Leaving our country doesn't mean running away from it, at the contrary it is realizing what is really our culture and opening up to different visions of the world and the human being.
Contemporary dance can be hard to understand, ambiguous because the audience can look at the work in many different ways but it is also the good thing about it: it gives the audience the freedom to interpret and have a personal opinion about what they see on stage. Contemporary dance is abstract, the audience is sometimes disappointed and feels a bit stupid which shouldn't happen at all. Dance is more complex than a movie or a play because it communicates with emotions in a non verbal way.
The work is like a mirror in front of the audience, they will find a piece of themselves in it.
The audience is looking at an ephemeral art. The work will be different each time it will be performed. The work is fragile but powerful by the emotions that the dancers and the audience will feel. The audience can feel at the same time what the dancer is going through and can also influence the dancers by its reactions. That's the power and magical of dance. It's an art which evolves all the time: the people on stage will always question themselves about our live, about the world, will look deep into our feelings. Dance will always experiment new ways of expression.
Contemporary dance is developing in two opposite ways. One is the research, the other joins the origins of the humanity.