Contemporary Dance: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

This is a guest post written by the awesome, 17-year old who has chosen to remain anonymous.
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“Contemporary” is a loose genre, mixing modern, jazz and ballet techniques along with un-named, interpretive movements. This leaves a lot of room for beautiful creative adventure, but also a lot of room for …the not so beautiful.

As with any broad topic, there’s room for great things, but also for disaster. All forms of dance stem from technique and strength – this includes ballet, tap, and even hip-hop.

So you’d think that “Contemporary” dance should also come with the same respect for technique, but sadly that is not the way it is always goes. It is becoming a fad, and in some instances, a cover for having no technique at all.

“Technique-free contemporary” is not pretty.

If you homeschooled your student, would you only teach them math? Or science? They would be great at those subjects, but they would have no knowledge or skill in the other areas. If someone who had studied in all areas applied for the same job as someone who only knows math, who do you think would get the job?

There are all different kinds of dancers, but “cross-training”, if I may call it that, will only make you stronger. In a class I took from Nick Lazzerini, he told us that he takes a full ballet class five days a week. Not because he loves it, because it makes him better. It gives him solid foundation to do all the cool tricks and doo-whops everyone wants to be able to do.

So what is “Contemporary” dance doing to the dance world?

Is it expanding it, or allowing kids to escape taking traditional classes to get to all the cool stuff?

Allowing students to dance at levels they are not ready for allows bad habits to form. We’ve all seen it, the studios that promote contemporary to kids as young as 7, with no technique just to get the extra paychecks for having more students taking classes. All they are doing is promoting meaningless movements, bad technique and fad dance moves.

I’m protesting! Some contemporary dance moves have even swept the nation becoming a “phenomenon” at competitions.

My best friend and I noted our favorite bad moves that have become so very trendy:

  • The globetrotter – an arm wave while it looks like they’re watching a basketball transfer from arm to arm
  • The running man – a deep lunged plié with running arms
  • The parallel squat
  • The parallel stand
  • The hunched over run to your spot move
  • The shaky “about to fall of a cliff” move
  • Knee drops (Ooh… the knee drops speak for themselves.)

All these are becoming synonymous with “Contemporary.” They come equipped with the hair bun on the top of the head. Trendy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautifully executed, meaningful contemporary routine.

So You Think You Can Dance contemporary: gorgeous! It’s full of passion, meaning, and there’s that pesky word again… technique!

I like it, it’s a great outlet for expression, but I don’t like that it’s overshadowing the necessary classes.

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