Why Contemporary Dance Isn’t What You Think It Is


How many contemporary dance performances have you seen? More than a couple of hundred, 18, a few, or none?

Contemporary dance is older than most of us, so there’s little to be wary of

One of the beauties of this form is it’s like a lot of contemporary art forms, it contains fashions of other dance forms. Ballet and modern dance are two. As most art forms develop, along the way they pick up connections to and a mirroring of other forms, so it is with contemporary dance.

Contemporary dance has a good following in Australia, but it could be better if more people knew how diverse, interesting and entertaining it is.

What is contemporary dance all about?

Years ago, a professor of philosophy asked, “What is the object of contemporary dance?” The same answer can be given to any dance form. The object of dance is to communicate through movement, what is hard or impossible to say with words. Another object is to entertain.

When Rafael Bonachela, artistic director of Sydney Dance Company first came to Sydney, one of his missions was to get more people looking at and talking about contemporary dance. He said, there are thousands of people walking around who don’t know they love contemporary dance. Are you one of those people?

He is right. With exposure comes interest, understanding and then the desire to be involved.

Contemporary dance creates something new and different

You can be assured that when you see a contemporary dance performance that you won’t be seeing something you’ve seen before. Surprising and startling acts of original physical human beauty fill this dance genre.

The music used or composed for a performance can be as astounding and unexpected as the performance itself. Bangarra dance company, who lost their great composer last year, David Page, created some of the most fitting and poignant music to the performances of this amazing dance company. Page's music is so good it works by itself.

Many dance works contain original music, and some performances will include a small ensemble or orchestra.  There’s nothing like a live dance performance with live music. Combined, the two can leave you breathless.

How do you find a contemporary dance performance?

Our article, 10 Best Australian Dance Blogs To Follow is a good place to start to find out about dance in Australia, but there are many dance companies in every state and territory.

Ausdance is an excellent resource for information on dance in Australia. They have 65 groups on their Australian dance companies list. Several companies tour Australia and you can probably find a performance coming to your region soon.