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What Is Contemporary Dance? Benefits Of Contemporary Dance Training

Contemporary dance has grown significantly in popularity over the last 70 years. Borrowing techniques from ballet, jazz, and modern dance, it has created a fanbase across the globe – with both dancers and audiences. The heart of contemporary dance is its fluidity and expressiveness, allowing those who engage or observe to connect with it. Alberta Ballet School gladly features contemporary dance as a part of its dance programming.

While the audition season is winding down, Alberta Ballet School continues to accept video auditions for our 2023 Summer Intensive and our 2023-2024 Professional Division Program. Both programs offer the opportunity to engage with an internationally recognized ballet curriculum, as well as participate in artistic and technical contemporary dance training. Students are guided by mentorship and instruction from experienced faculty, guest teachers, and Alberta Ballet’s professional dancers.

What is contemporary dance?

 Contemporary dance and ballet are two distinct styles of dance, each with its unique history, techniques, and aesthetics. While ballet has a long and established tradition that dates back centuries, contemporary dance is a more recent development, having emerged in the mid-20th century as a reaction against traditional forms of dance.

In terms of technique, ballet is known for its precise and formal movements, with a focus on turnout, pointe work, and intricate footwork. Ballet dancers strive for perfect alignment and posture, and the movements are often highly stylized and controlled.

Contemporary dance takes a much more expressive, improvisational approach to dance. Combining artistry from several different kinds of dance, contemporary is characterized by floor work, release technique, and the exploration of gravity. Contemporary dance is often described as emotional, as dancers are using their bodies to emote. The use of stage props is often subtle, if present at all. It is a highly creative form of dance that allows dancers to express themselves in unique and personal ways.

Despite their differences, contemporary dance and ballet do share certain qualities. Contemporary dancers often incorporate ballet techniques into their work, such is the nature of contemporary. But ballet companies are now also beginning to incorporate contemporary pieces into their repertoire. Many dancers find that training in both styles can be beneficial, as it allows them to develop a range of techniques and skills that can be applied to a variety of dance styles.

Contemporary programs

 Many dance schools and companies offer contemporary programs for dancers who are interested in this style of dance. These programs are designed to teach dancers the techniques and skills they need to become successful contemporary dancers. Alberta Ballet School’s Professional Division offers a comprehensive artistic training program for students in grades 7-12, including opportunities to explore contemporary styles of dance.

In these programs, students learn a variety of contemporary dance techniques, key choreography and how to express themselves through movement. Students have the opportunity to work with experienced contemporary dance instructors and choreographers who help them develop their skills and refine their techniques.

Benefits of contemporary training

 There are many benefits to training in contemporary dance. First and foremost, it allows dancers to express themselves in a highly creative and personal way. While Alberta Ballet School prides itself on our commitment to the traditional art form that is ballet, contemporary dance can offer students a chance to be creative, use their imaginations, and explore new forms of movement. This can be very empowering for dancers, as the exploration of new skills through movement builds confidence in their abilities and their overall self-esteem.

Contemporary dance also encourages dancers to use their bodies to convey emotion, which can be a powerful and transformative experience. Additionally, contemporary dance helps dancers develop their improvisation skills, which can be useful in other styles of dance and other areas of life. In this sense, contemporary dance supports Alberta Ballet School’s ultimate goal of a holistic approach to dance and academic instruction. While our primary focus may be artistic and technical dance training, we aim to provide our students with important social and life skills during their time here.

Contemporary training also helps dancers develop their physical and technical skills. This unique style of dance can encourage new forms of physical literacy for all ages through the exploration of new movements and artistic techniques. Contemporary dance requires a great deal of strength, flexibility, and control, which are all important skills for dancers to have.

Finally, contemporary dance can be a highly rewarding experience for students since it allows them to explore their creativity, express themselves, and connect with audiences in new and unique ways. For many dancers, contemporary dance is a way of life, and a highly fulfilling one at that.

How to Audition

 While our in-person audition season has ended, we are still accepting video auditions for our Professional Division and our Summer Intensive.

The Professional Division offers a deliberately curated curriculum involving academic instruction and artistic training for students in grades 8-12. This school-year program is designed for those who aspire to a career in professional dance. During each school day, instruction is divided into halves – one half features on-site our academic instruction, while the other involves artistic training with our dedicated artistic faculty. The Professional Division Programs also offer opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities, allowing students to plan and participate in community and school events to build school spirit, leadership and life skills, and lifelong friendships.

The Summer Intensive is a three-week program that offers insight into intensive professional ballet training. We recommend this short-term commitment for students looking to get their feet wet in the world of professional ballet. The 2023 Summer Intensive will take place from July 17 to August 4, 2023, in Calgary, Alberta. Instruction will include Ballet, Pointe Work, Pas De Deux (for select levels), Repertoire, Variations, Contemporary, Character Dance, and Body Conditioning.

In addition to building skills with experienced professionals, the Summer Intensive is also an excellent opportunity to be considered for placement in the 2023-2024 Professional Division program. There are a few specific requirements you must include in your video to be considered; below are the requirements for junior and senior students to audition via video submission:

  • Barre Work; not to exceed 5 minutes in length and one side only
    • Pliés[EL1]
    • Battement tendus
    • Adage
    • Grands battements
    • Please be sure to film straight on or on a diagonal, avoid sideways.
  • Centre; not to exceed 5 minutes in length and demonstrated on both sides
    • Adage
    • Pirouettes, en dehors and en dedans
    • Petit allegro
    • Grand allegro
  • Pointe Work; aged 12 and over, one side only
    • Slow rises
    • Echappé relevé
  • Centre; for dancers aged 14 and over
    • Echappé relevé in 2nd and 4th, relevés and relevés passé
    • Pirouettes en dehors and en dedans (both sides)
    • Diagonal turns of choice
  • Male Identifying Applicants; aged 14 and over
    • Echappé battu
    • tour en l’air
  • Variations: for dancers aged 14 and over

If you intend to submit a video audition for any of our programs, you may do so here.

The overall experience at Alberta Ballet School has been intentionally designed to create a welcoming and exciting environment for all students who walk (and dance!) through our doors.

Contemporary dance continues to be an important part of our programming, given it is a highly expressive and creative art form that has captured the hearts of audiences around the world. Through contemporary programs, dancers can develop their skills and refine their technique, while also exploring their creativity and expressing themselves in highly personal ways. With its many benefits, contemporary dance is an excellent choice for dancers who are looking for a rewarding and fulfilling dance experience.

We continue to learn, from our students and our research partners, new ways we can further enrich the experiences of our attendees. We are proud to offer holistic programming including health and wellness, inclusion for students from outside Canada, and a variety of options to participate in our dance programming. If you are interested in pursuing ballet, contemporary or jazz technique, we strongly encourage you to submit a video audition. Should you have any further questions about any of our programs or the audition process, please feel free to reach out – we would be pleased to provide more information. Send us a note on our website, email us, or give us a call at 403.245.2274 ext. 722.