Contemporary dance

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Ultima Vez / Wim Vandekeybus with Mauro Pawlowski : What's the Prediction? ( ImPulsTanz 2010)
Ultima Vez / Wim Vandekeybus with Mauro Pawlowski: What's the Prediction? (ImPulsTanz 2010)

The collective term contemporary dance is generally understood to mean the contemporary art of choreographic stage dance. This term has also largely established itself in other languages: contemporary dance, danse contemporaine, danza contemporánea.

Historical development

In contrast to classical ballet, the term modern dance was coined at the beginning of the last century in particular by the work of the American choreographer Martha Graham . Around the same time, German expressive dance emerged in Germany with great public response, entirely under the sign of Expressionism, with important representatives such as Gret Palucca , Mary Wigman , Jean Weidt , and Laban's student Kurt Jooss . Nazi rule and war put a lasting end to the young genre of dance. Jean Weidt exported the new German expressive dance to France and established itself there with great success. The most striking contemporary document of modern German expressive dance is the French film hit Der Zauberlehrling from 1933.

It was not until the 1970s that a number of stylistically very different individuals succeeded in popularizing modern, artistic dance forms in a broader sense: Tom Schilling in East Berlin, Pina Bausch , Susanne Linke and Reinhild Hoffmann in Essen, Johann Kresnik in Bremen and Heidelberg, Jochen Ulrich in Cologne, Jessica Iwanson and Birgitta Trommler in Munich, Dieter Heitkamp (founding member of Tanzfabrik Berlin ) and Helge Musial in Berlin and others.

Since 1994 provides biennially held Tanzplattform Germany a forum for contemporary dance. The program manual presents 50 portraits of German choreographers, which are published in cooperation with the International Theater Institute on the Internet portal of the Goethe Institute .

From 2005 to 2010 the Tanzplan Deutschland ran , a nationwide initiative of the Federal Cultural Foundation , which aims to promote the public perception of contemporary dance as a genre on an equal footing with theater and opera. 12.5 million euros were made available in order to pursue two main focuses: Tanzplan auf Ort includes the implementation of a large number of different projects and activities in 9 German cities that already have an active dance scene. “Tanzplan training projects” also enables the promotion of training and further education in the field of contemporary dance.

In 2007, the Iwanson Sixt Foundation for Contemporary Dance was the first foundation for contemporary dance in Germany. In addition, the TANZ Foundation has existed since August 2010 , whose primary aim is to support stage dancers in their transition to a new profession. It is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation as part of Tanzplan Deutschland .

Terminological diversity

The constant renewal of modern - i.e. not classical - dance art that took place over the course of the century was characterized by ever new names. On the one hand, this terminological development was shaped by the reception of dance history, but on the other hand it was also consciously driven by choreographers who knew how to distinguish themselves aesthetically and pragmatically: post modern dance , new dance, dance theater , choreographic theater, choreographic opera, dance-dance theater, new dance , physical theater, etc. a. More recently, Asian dance forms, martial arts techniques , research forms and body awareness techniques such as butoh , contact improvisation , tai chi , capoeira or yoga have found their way into artistic, contemporary dance.

A number of choreographers / directors completely distance themselves from the so-called “craft aspect” of dance for their productions and develop a choreographic variant of conceptual art , mostly with the inclusion of interdisciplinary working techniques and video installations . An aesthetic or terminological characterization is therefore becoming increasingly difficult. Accordingly, dance scholar Johannes Odenthal defines contemporary dance as follows:

Contemporary dance does not understand itself on the basis of just one technique or aesthetic form, but on the basis of diversity. He seeks to cross borders between the arts and repeatedly breaks with existing forms. Contemporary dance in this sense has an open structure that deliberately sets itself apart from the fixed, linear designs of the classic and modern. "

- Johannes Odenthal

Current trends

On a broad front, a return to the originally emotional quality of dance can be observed in the traditional dialogue with music. Modern classics that were believed to be dead, such as the Martha Graham Company or the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, are suddenly celebrating international tour successes again, contemporary interpreters of classical modernism such as Mats Ek or Jiří Kylián have finally found their way into the repertoires of the major opera houses, but also artistically motivated hip Hop groups are acclaimed on tours around the world. Many observers see this as a trend reversal away from theorized dance, which has been cultivated at festivals in recent years, but has been rather reluctantly accepted by the public. The commercial success of films such as “ Billy Elliot - I Will Dance ” and “ Rhythm Is It! ” Are proof of this repopularization of dance in its original qualities . "," Pina "and even the casting show of Sat.1 " You can dance ". In the documentary “ Tanz mit der Zeit ” about four former dance professionals from the Leipzig Opera , who return to the stage in an autobiographical dance theater piece by Heike Hennig & Co at the age of 80, the usual age limit for active dancing life of mid-30s has been impressively lifted.

The increasing popularity of contemporary dance is also reflected in the fact that Contemporary has been included in the repertoire of dances to be performed by the candidates since the 2014 season of the RTL dance show “ Let's Dance ”.

Contemporary dance for children and young people

Regardless of this development of contemporary dance, which has now lasted almost a century, classical children's ballet has long retained its dominance in the field of child and youth work. It was only with the general social redefinition of the educational ideal in the 1980s and 1990s that contemporary alternatives were able to gain ground. Particularly worth mentioning are the creative children's dance based on Hastings and Ickstadt as well as the more technically oriented modern children's dance based on Iwanson , which are now becoming increasingly important at the expense of traditional children's ballet. The Dance Plan Germany promoted recently nationwide programs under programmatic slogans such as Access to Dance or makes dance school try to give contemporary dance in the school's equal place. Tanzplan Deutschland is a project of the Federal Culture Foundation, which u. a. gives children and young people space and a stage under the slogan Young Dance .

For young people interested in dance, there are schools all over Germany where so-called youth dance days take place, or where students can take prior dance training. The culture and dance workshop in Würzburg organizes the Bavarian Youth Dance Days biennially , while at the Iwanson School of Contemporary Dance in Munich, at the Folkwang School in Essen or at the Palucca School in Dresden, vocational training programs are offered that also enable students to attend a grammar school .


  • Reto Clavadetscher and Claudia Rosiny (eds.): Contemporary dance: body - concepts - cultures. An inventory . Transcript-Verlag, Bielefeld 2007, ISBN 978-3-89942-765-3 .
  • Laurence Louppe: Poetics of Contemporary Dance . Translated from the French by Frank Weigand. Transcript, Bielefeld 2009, ISBN 978-3-8376-1068-0 .
  • Johannes Odenthal: dance, body, politics. Texts on contemporary dance history . 2nd, expanded edition. Theater der Zeit, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-943881-16-5 .
  • Susanne Foellmer: At the edge of the body. Inventories of the unfinished in contemporary dance . Transcript, Bielefeld 2009, ISBN 978-3-8376-1089-5 .
  • Hedwig Müller / Patricia Stöckemann: "... everyone is a dancer." Expressive dance in Germany between 1900 and 1945. Anabas-Verlag, 1993. ISBN 3-87038-250-3 .
  • Hedwig Müller / Ralf Stabel / Patricia Stöckemann: Crocodile in Swan Lake. Dance in Germany since 1945. Anabas-Verlag 2003. ISBN 3-87038-353-4

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Dance Platform Germany
  2. Dance area of ​​the Goethe Institute
  3. Foundation DANCE - Transition Center Germany
  4. ^ Website of the association for the promotion of contemporary dance Rhein Neckar eV
  5. "Let's Dance": Alexander Klaws helps Jorge to climax on May 23, 2014. Accessed on May 26, 2014

Web links

Commons : Contemporary Dance  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files
Portal: Dance  - Overview of Wikipedia content on dance