The History of Dance – Part 2

We continue to sweep along the dance floor in the second part of our series on the history of dancing. We start with the early years of the 20th Century, when a whole raft of dances were created that are at the very forefront of ballroom dancing as we know it today. Contemporary Dance Contemporary […]

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The History of Dance – Part 2

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We continue to sweep along the dance floor in the second part of our series on the history of dancing. We start with the early years of the 20th Century, when a whole raft of dances were created that are at the very forefront of ballroom dancing as we know it today. Contemporary Dance Contemporary Dance refers to dances that sprung up in western culture from the 1950’s onwards. Some of the...

We continue to sweep along the dance floor in the second part of our series on the history of dancing. We start with the early years of the 20th Century, when a whole raft of dances were created that are at the very forefront of ballroom dancing as we know it today.

Contemporary Dance

Contemporary Dance refers to dances that sprung up in western culture from the 1950’s onwards. Some of the dances were little more than a development of certain choreographic practices which consist of a style of dancing that was not fluid. Contemporary dance was created by learning different techniques from ballet and modern dance. Ballet displays the formal techniques and form of dancing, whilst modern dance added the freer, more expressionist movements. To understand the developments of contemporary dance, we must look at a major choreographer who developed it through the decades.

Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham is considered to be the first choreographer that acted against established conceptions of dance and developed an independent view towards the artistic representation of this artform. In the mid-1950’s he created the Black Mountain College that enabled him to teach his dance students the new ideas and methods, of which many are still used today.

Butoh

Butoh is a form of performance dancing that takes the form of Japanese contemporary dance and is immensely popular in the USA today. Just at the turn of the 1960’s, Japan saw the formation of a new gestural language which echoed the cultural transformation the country was going through at the time. This was mostly caused by the social upheaval that hit Japan after WWII and the devastation of the two atomic bombs. But the social comment at the time cited that this cultural revolution was driven against the traditional dance scene.

Butoh form of dance uses many features, including the use of taboo topics, absurd environments, the use of almost nude dancers with bodies that are painted white, and slower but meticulously controlled movement and grotesque face gestures.

Street Dance

In the early 1970’s street dance was prevalent, which fought against the highbrow principles of contemporary dance being performed in theaters and art galleries. Street Dance was a youth culture that was perfectly suited for popular dance music that was rocking the world.

In 1973 an American dance group first performed live on TV a dance called the Robot which served to open the doors for many dance routines to follow. There was now a dance revolution hitting the streets of America that identified with the lives and culture of a wide section of American youth. Bboying, Poping, Boogaloo soon followed that formed a platform for Hip-Hop and Breakdancing.

Dance has always been interlinked with culture, and as time has passed the act of dancing has changed from that of a religious rite to something that is for pure enjoyment and an expression of who the person is. Dance has also been linked to the music of a period, and as composers wrote new forms of music, choreographers developed new forms of dance. Dance will always evolve, but some of the styles remain classics and stay with us forever.