Difference Between Modern and Contemporary Dance

Modern vs Contemporary Dance
 

You won’t see much of a difference between modern and contemporary dance if you do not know what each dance style stands for. Modern and contemporary dances are both developed from the art of rhythmic body movement used as a medium of social communication and expression. They are equally potent channels that utilize different nuances in style and varieties of techniques to represent the emotions and unuttered speech. If you look at the two words, modern and contemporary, the word modern speaks about something new. Then, the word contemporary speaks about something that is happening now, in the present time. Is this how you make the difference between the two dance styles too? Let us see what they truly mean by examining each dance style separately.

What is Modern Dance?

Modern dance reflects a style that is devoid of the restrictions of classic ballet, removed of structured routines, and focused on free-interpretations derived from inner emotions. Dating back to the late 19th and early 20th century, modern dance has been the product of performers’ rebellion against classic performances, costume, and footwear use. Turning against the previously established practices, dancers started a trend of relaxed, barefoot, and non-traditional costume wearing acts with modern dance. Actually, apart from the movements, the costumes are very interesting in modern dance. You will see costumes that are very out-of-the-box productions with colors that blend in with the act very well. These costumes are not like traditional classic dance costumes.

Modern Dance

What is Contemporary Dance?

Contemporary dance is a specific concert dance genre that is all about unchoreographed movements as influenced by compositional philosophy. Contemporary dance dates back to the 20th century. This dance variety draws inspiration from a range of methods and skills drafted from modern dance and ballet, though it is strictly made to be non-classical in nature. Emphasizing the need of impeccable form, the contemporary dance frequently utilizes groundwork to produce a piece that is neither of cultural or conventional jazz orientation. Merce Cunnigham is considered the first choreographer to use contemporary dance. Other pioneers of contemporary dance are Ruth St. Denis, Doris Humphrey, Mary Wigman, Francois Delsarte, Émile Jaques-Dalcroze, Paul Taylor, Rudolph von Laban, Loie Fuller, Jose Limon and Marie Rambert.

Difference Between Modern and Contemporary Dance

What is the difference between Modern and Contemporary Dance?

• Modern dance reflects a style that is devoid of the restrictions of classic ballet, removed of structured routines, and focused on free-interpretations derived from inner emotions.

• Contemporary dance is a specific concert dance genre that is all about unchoreographed movements as influenced by compositional philosophy.

• Modern dance is older than contemporary dance.

• The development of both modern and contemporary dance revolved around the desire of attaining an improved ranged movement as expressions of style, which are detached from the one that is viewed as traditional.

• Modern dance, however, gives more accent to moods and emotions to come up with routines that are distinctly of its own. Contemporary dance, on the other hand, transcend boundaries by developing relatively new styles of movement, emphasis on motion that have not been practiced universally.

• Modern dance routines are all for the deliberate use of gravity, while contemporary dance retains elements of lightness and fluidity.

Throughout these years, dance forms have endured extensive growth. Dance, in itself, has rightfully served its purpose to express and to define perspectives on various societal issues that are often obscured. What matters when looking at the difference between modern and contemporary dance is remembering that both are forms of non-classical dances.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Modern dance by Knight Foundation (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  2. Contemporary dance by Nazareth College (CC BY 2.0)