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Daring, grounded, and free, modern dance once was, by definition, contemporary. Modern dance gave dancemakers fresh, new ways of approaching movement with styles and vocabulary still very much alive in the studio and onstage. Now contemporary dance—which counts modern as an influence—does the same. From the classroom to the commercial arena, contemporary dance inspires educators and creators to seek out the latest in music, message, and movement.
Classroom Connection: The Power of Questions
by Holly Derville-Teer
By questioning rather than chastising, Edwards maintained control of the classroom. I was impressed by how the dancers listened. Answering questions also increased their level of engagement.
Reality Check: Sensitivity and Caring
Q. I have a talented dancer who lost an arm in an accident. She came back to ballet class and is doing amazingly well, but I don’t want to pretend that this is not going to affect her balance or her dancing. How do I navigate this situation with sensitivity and caring?
by Nina Pinzarrone
The great modernist composer Igor Stravinsky first intended Petrushka as a concert piece for piano and orchestra. At Serge Diaghilev’s urging, he instead wrote music and (with Alexandre Benois) libretto for a one-act dance drama in four “tableaux” portraying traditional Russian puppet theater. The resulting score was electrifying—but difficult for the dancers to count.
by Nicole Sasala Lobuzzetta
Now that studios can purchase dance curriculums—some with playlists included—I’ve been asking myself, “Where is the art in teaching modern dance? Is the performance the only artistic aspect? Or could we teach with the intent to foster creative growth, take risks, and push artistic boundaries?”
by Samara Atkins
Tip 1: The 1990s offered a fresh take on urban culture. The music, clothing, and messages were loud; the movement was big, colorful, and “hype.” To me, the expressive moves of classic ’90s style are still the pinnacle of hip-hop.
Tip 2: Imagery can be helpful when you’re breaking down a compound move. With the Reebok, I like to use the image of a door closing and opening.
The Emory University Dance and Movement Studies Program focuses on contemporary modern dance, emphasizing improvisation, choreography, and performance through a somatically based curriculum.
If you can’t hear a beat without tapping your feet, there are no better places to hone technique, learn about history, meet master teachers, and immerse yourself in rhythmic bliss this year than at these national and international tap festivals.
by Tiffany R. Jansen (with additional reporting by Karen White)
Costumes are often the first thing audiences notice about a piece, even before movement begins. Quite often, “costumer” is one of the many hats that studio teachers must wear. We asked several teachers/directors how they approach costuming their contemporary dance competition students and performing companies.
by Patrick Corbin
Tip 1: Staying at the front of the studio during class can limit you as an instructor. Changing your vantage point is a good way to catch issues that otherwise might escape your attention.
Tip 2: The ease and fluidity associated with contemporary duet work can begin with a simple weight-sharing exercise.
by Tamsin Nutter
What are the qualities of a good children’s dance teacher? After a semester of hands-on experience, the college-student interns in University of Montana’s children’s dance class program have clear ideas on the subject.
by Karen White
The educational power of movement serves as the foundation of Locally Grown, a residency program through which Fusionworks Dance Company uses modern dance to take schoolchildren on an academic journey into subjects such as marine life, immigration, haiku, and earthquakes.
by Thelma Goldberg
Tip 1: Getting a tap routine ready for performance is like putting frosting on a cake. The ingredients have been organized and laid out, and now it’s time to concentrate on the final details: making it look and (in tap’s case) sound great.
Tip 2: Tap is a full-bodied dance form, and the upper body can express rhythm just as clearly as the feet can make sounds.
by Heather Wisner
If you want to add contemporary dance to your studio’s schedule, your first task might be to ask yourself, “What exactly is contemporary dance?” It may sound like a silly question, but ask five different studio owners and teachers and you’ll get five different answers.
“The Rights Stuff: Who Owns Choreography?” by Karen White: There I was, in another conversation about who owns choreography, the teacher or the studio. Sometimes I think this issue will never go away, doomed to be debated forever by two clans glaring at each other over an immovable fence.
“Cycles of Inspiration” by Thom Watson: There are days when I really love my job. For this issue, for example, I exercised editor-in-chief privilege to assign myself the delightful task of interviewing several of my favorite choreographers and master teachers for a feature story, “Cool & Contemporary.”
by Rhee Gold
Just as I admire school owners for working together to improve dance education, I have always respected UDMA’s ability to unite some of the largest and most respected vendors in the industry. Together these vendors donate thousands of dollars for National Dance Week, offer continuing education seminars for teachers and school owners, and produce the largest American trade show in the field.