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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.
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.
Our four “Cool and Contemporary” dancemakers, plus studio and dance company teachers and choreographers, let us pick their brains about music. Here’s what they had to say.
by David Arce
Tip 1: To start men’s class, my male students and I do 32 push-ups to music (usually at a coda or fouetté tempo) followed by what I call “manly pliés” at the barre.
Tip 2: When male students practice tours en l’air, they often need reminders to clean up their preparation port de bras.
by Thom Watson
In wide-ranging conversations about contemporary dance, DSL asked celebrated choreographers Tyce Diorio, Teddy Forance, Mia Michaels, and Derrick Schrader how they define the genre, the pros and cons of making dance in an age when dance videos are ubiquitous online, where they find inspiration for their work, and how they approach choreographing and staging contemporary dance. We also asked for their advice for dance teachers in hometown studios.
Videos of note (new and not)
1. Dancing Dreams
3. Alonzo King Lines Ballet: Triangle of the Squinches, Scheherazade, Dust and Light
4. The Royal Ballet: Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée
Books of note (new and not)
1. Agnes de Mille: Telling Stories in Broadway Dance
2. Underpants Dance
3. Martha Graham in Love and War: The Life in the Work
4. Dinosaur Dance!
What’s up in the dance community
-Educator-Founded Festivals Focus on Community, Artistry
-Martha Swope, Noted Theater and Dance Photog, Dies
-Son’s Dancing Inspires Mom to Open All-Abilities Studio