Contemporary Dance is Purple
Contemporary Dance has become very popular!! You know what it is, right? You've seen it, you've performed it. But could you explain in words what contemporary dance is?
The Oxford Dictionary's definition of CONTEMPORARY is "belonging to or occurring in the present, following modern ideas in style or design".
So contemporary dance is dance that is of our time....but what about modern dance?
The definition of MODERN is "using the most up-to-date techniques, ideas, or equipment"
...hmmm...pretty much the same as contemporary...
OK, so words may have dictionary definitions but how (and why) do people in the dance world use these two labels?
A little bit of dance history:
Hundreds of years ago people started dancing to entertain others (theatre dance) and over the centuries ballet developed. By about 1900 it was looking pretty much like what we call BALLET today... but then some people started to say that ballet was too artificial. They rejected the idea of women dancing on their toes, and the stories of supernatural beings that were so commonly used for ballet. These people made their own style of theatre dance. They danced in natural costumes and (often) in bare feet, about real human experiences. They called this new type of theatre dance MODERN DANCE. The modern dancers and the ballet dancers were different, with different training...but then ballet dancers began to see things modern dancers were doing that they liked and modern dancers saw things in ballet technique they liked. They borrowed from each other. This mixing of ballet and modern is called contemporary dance.
Sometimes it's hard to tell whether a dance you are watching is ballet, modern, or contemporary.
Contemporary dance is purple.
Purple is created by combining blue (ballet) and red (modern).
With more red you would have contemporary modern
With more blue you would have contemporary ballet
add even more blue to get ballet with a contemporary feel
you get the idea...
These days ballet almost always has some modern in it and modern has some ballet in it, and contemporary dance is, well, purple...different shades of dance. Maybe we should stop trying to label it and enjoy the variety!
When you think of dance this way it's easy to understand why dancers must have training in modern and ballet...and contemporary! There is not much pure blue or red out there anymore!
By the way, purple is my favourite colour! What's yours?