Contemporary ballet

Contemporary ballet

Contemporary Ballet is the style of Ballet that incorporates the elements of both Modern dance and Classical Ballet, taking the En Pointe Technique from the Classical ballet and including modern innovations such as floor-work and turn-in of the legs. This ballet style allows a larger range of movement than classical ballet.

This form of dance doesn't follow by heart the strict body lines established by ballet technique schools, since several of its notions come from the revolutionary ideas of the modern dance of 20th century.

Contemporary Ballet was developed from the innovations made by the pioneer of Neoclassical Ballet, George Balanchine. Balanchine created a style that fell under a category between the classical Ballet and the Contemporary one we now know. This revolutionary concept was the one that incentivized this contemporary form of dance.

Balanchine brought modern dancers into the scene of performance ballet; when he detached from the Ballet Russes (the best itinerant ballet company of the 20th century), he settled in the New Continent and created the New York City Ballet, where he invited dancers like Paul Taylor and modern-dance-choreographer Martha Graham, to broaden his concepts of modern techniques and notions.

Soon choreographers like Glen Tetley and John Butler began to incorporate the idea of merging ballet with their modern shows. In true Balanchine style, they discarded the traditional tutu, and replaced it with much more elaborate costumes that played a more faithful role to the authenticity of the story; thus, tunics and leotards replaced tutus.

Mikhail Baryshnikov, one of Balanchine's dancers, worked with countless modern choreographers, like Twyla Tharp, with whom Baryshnikov created "Push Comes To Shove" and "In The Upper Room"; these two groundbreaking pieces were cause of much uproar for their use of conspicuously modern motions "en pointe" shoes and classically-trained dancers for what would become the definition of "contemporary ballet".

Continuing this work, Tharp also created a blend of pop music and danced in modern and ballet techniques.

Today's contemporary ballet schools are made of characters such as:
  • Alonzo King and his company, Alonzo King's Lines Ballet.
  • Nacho Duato and Compania Nacional de Danza.
  • William Forsythe who today runs The Forsythe Company.
  • Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, Co-Founders of Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
  • Jirí Kilián, former artistic director of the Nederlands Dans Theatre.
Nowadays even traditionally "classical" companies like Paris Opera Ballet and Kirov Ballet often present contemporary works.