How to become a contemporary dancer
Contemporary Dance for Beginners: Dance Tips & Tricks
You’ve got a playlist packed with songs that fill you with feeling...
You’ve watched a million Contemporary dance performances on YouTube...
You’ve dreamed about expressing yourself to music and telling stories through movement...
But, you don’t know how to start learning Contemporary dance as a total beginner.
Don’t worry – we’re here to help!
Follow this guide to kickstart your Contemporary dance journey with all the right knowledge.What is Contemporary Dance?
Contemporary dance is all about self-expression, storytelling, and freedom.
It pulls from traditional dance styles like Ballet & Jazz, but breaks away from the strict techniques and movements that make those styles so recognizable.
When watching a Contemporary routine (or phrase), you’ll catch many of the moves executed in more traditional styles, in addition to acrobatics, martial arts, movements pulled from yoga, and plenty of experimental movements that reflect the feelings of the dancer.
Wondering if Contemporary dance is for you?
If you’re looking for a style that allows you to connect with yourself physically and artistically, you’ve come to the right place!
As you adopt the mindset of a Contemporary dancer, you’ll learn how to communicate your emotions by moving every inch of your body with nuance and intention.
You’ll also improve your ability to create clean lines and aesthetically pleasing shapes as you dance.
And if you’re more familiar with other styles like Hip Hop, Popping, or House, adding Contemporary to your repertoire will strengthen your musicality skills.
You’ll learn how to think outside of the box, create pictures you’ve never tried before, and engage muscles you never knew you had.
All that sound good to you?
Start learning Contemporary dance at home with STEEZY’s “Intro to Contemporary” program for beginners!
1.What to wear
Since Contemporary dance requires a wide range of motion, wear clothes that won’t restrict your movement.
Loose tops, pants, or shorts that are breezy enough to sweat in will work best.
You can dance in bare feet to feel fully connected to the floor, but wear socks if you intend to dance on rougher carpeted surfaces or do a lot of gliding around on the floor.
2. How to prep your dance space
If you’re taking a Contemporary dance class at home, clear 6ft by 6ft of space to dance in and get rid of any sharp edges nearby.
This will allow you to jump, turn, and move without bumping a shin on that pesky coffee table or tripping over an awkward rug.
3. How to prep your body
In order to move with both fluidity and power, Contemporary dancers need to develop a strong core and stable lower body.
In addition to taking your regular dance classes, find 10-15 minutes each day to strengthen your back, abs, and legs.
Holding planks, doing crunches, and balancing on one foot for as long as you can (bonus if you stand on the balls of your feet), will help you get stronger!
You can also spend 10-15 minutes doing gentle yoga routines and stretching exercises to increase your flexibility and range of motion.
Lastly, on class days, don’t forget to warm your body up before dancing!
If your instructor does not include a warmup in their class, take 5-10 minutes to do light cardio and stretching beforehand.
Your first Contemporary classes should thoroughly cover basic techniques, encourage exploration, and help you start building your artistic foundation.
Look for classes that not only teach common moves like Chassés and Ball Changes, but also explain different ways to execute those moves to create different visual effects.
The same move can evoke a totally different emotion when it’s executed crazy quickly versus painfullyyyy sloowwwwlyyyy. (More on that later!)
If possible, chat with your potential instructors before signing up for their class, and ask about how they teach.
Skilled Contemporary instructors will help you explore how your body moves specifically, and push you to move in unexpected ways.
Expect the class to feel more interactive than a typical dance class where you’re quietly copying the instructor.
You might be asked a lot of questions to help you think through your intentions, and spend some time freestyling or improvising.
This is why we included an open-ended exercise on each day of STEEZY’s “Intro to Contemporary” program – the class experience should be immersive and personal, just like your actual dancing.
1. Build body awareness
Before you can start learning to dance with emotional intensity and grace, you have to understand how your body moves and build up the connection between your brain and muscles.
In addition to improving your flexibility, you can use stretch exercises to get in tune with your body.
For example, try slowly lowering your chest down to the floor and back up, moving one vertebrae at a time, to explore what it feels like to activate each back muscle.
For a more creative exercise, follow along with this body awareness video, where you’ll explore moving points on your body along an imaginary grid.
As you do these exercises, focus on only moving one body part at a time, while keeping the rest of your body completely still –– this will make it easier to build muscle memory!
2. Understand eye contact & chin lines
Contemporary dancers don’t just tell stories with their bodies –– they make full use of their faces too!
The direction in which you focus your eyes and chin as you dance will add emotional context to each move.
Look at the images below, and ask yourself, “what does this expression tell me?”
Notice how her expression goes from arrogant to flirtatious, with just subtle changes in her chin angle and eyes?
Practice different angles in the mirror yourself, and make use of those expressions when you dance.
3. Explore different movement qualities
There are several different schools of thought when it comes to defining how Contemporary dancers can move.
In STEEZY Studio’s “Intro to Contemporary” program, we use Laban effort qualities, because they’re straightforward and easy for beginners to understand.
Here’s a quick rundown of the Laban effort qualities:
Flow: Whether you move with a sense of freedom or resistance.
Time: Whether you move suddenly or slowly.
Weight: Whether your movements look heavy or light.
Space: Whether you move directly or indirectly from one place to another.
Mastering each quality of movement will expand your toolbelt as a Contemporary dancer.
4. Practice safe movements
You know how certain movements look/feel super complicated at first? (Lookin’ at you fancy floorwork)
You can avoid injuries and discomfort by carefully watching the pathways your instructor takes to get from one position to the next.
When moving to the floor, use your hands to help the rest of your body arrive.
When rolling on the ground, use the softest (🍑) parts of your body as your main point of contact, rather than your joints.
When jumping, land on the balls of your feet rather than flat-footed, so your body can absorb the shock of hitting the ground.
At any time, if something feels painful to execute, ask your instructor for safety tips or find an alternative move altogether.
5. Familiarize yourself with Ballet, Jazz, and other foundations
Since Contemporary draws from other styles, it won’t hurt to check out beginner Ballet classes or beginner Jazz dance classes as a supplement to your Contemporary training.
By learning basic moves from other styles, you’ll also understand more about how the Contemporary versions of those moves can differ.
A few essential moves that carry from style to style?Ball ChangesPivot TurnsChassésPas de Bourrées
3. Journal & improvise to hone your craft
When you perform a dance, it helps to recall a powerful memory that fits the choreography.
So, take the time to journal regularly, and put your own powerful experiences to paper, making them easier to recall.
If you’ve never journaled before, try looking at an emotions wheel, selecting a feeling, and writing about a time you experienced it yourself.
As you write, don’t spare any details. Think of what you wore, how the room/space smelled, how your body felt… everything.
All of that color and context will help you later!
You can also try putting on a song that gets you in your feels, and imagining a fantasy situation that fits the music.
Then, improvise a dance where you’re the main character in that fantasy.
“Improv is a great way to explore how your body moves outside of structure, break habits, and discover new things.” – Karen Chuang, STEEZY Contemporary Instructor
We hope this article helped you feel comfortable and confident as you start your Contemporary dance journey!
Remember, your body already has an existing vocabulary of movements whether you’re trained in dance or not.
You know what it feels like to hug, punch, curl into a ball, reach for the top cabinet, collapse on the floor…
And Contemporary dance is just an exaggeration of those familiar movements set to music!
Everything you need already exists within you. Now, all you have to do is start.
Ready to get moving?
Sign up for a free trial of STEEZY Studio and begin our “Intro to Contemporary” program for FREE.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
how to be a contemporary dancerTikTok
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Pulse - IDER
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Somebody's Watching Me - Single Version - Rockwell
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i love you - Billie Eilish
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27.2K Likes, 359 Comments. TikTok video from danceplatinumco (@danceplatinumco0): "The Platinum Staff breaks a few contemporary dance steps (Part 1) 😂 #danceplatinum #danceplatinum2021 #dancecompetition #contemporarydance". How To Contemporary Dance learn the steps (Part 1): | The “Gather the Children” | The “I dont wanna get up, I just want to lie here” | .... Monkeys Spinning Monkeys.
Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey
We’re going to be sick at improv lads #fyp #foryou #contemporarydance #contemporary #ballet #technique #dancer #dancemoms #abbyleemiller
19.1K Likes, 81 Comments. TikTok video from Josie (@8181josie): "We’re going to be sick at improv lads #fyp#foryou#contemporarydance#contemporary#ballet#technique#dancer#dancemoms#abbyleemiller". Part 3 of basic contemporary/ lyrical (its getting a bit more obscure now but people have said it is helpful for improv so here we go) | Toe drag | Plie to releve extension | . ... Chicago Freestyle - Remix.
Chicago Freestyle - Remix - Losfrms800
intermediate contemporary tutorial for dancers! as i know not everyone is able to dance over lockdown i thought i would put up some combos! #dance
37.2K Likes, 299 Comments. TikTok video from 𝓒𝓵𝓮𝓸 💫🤍 (@cleokhan): "intermediate contemporary tutorial for dancers! as i know not everyone is able to dance over lockdown i thought i would put up some combos! #dance". original sound.
original sound - 𝓒𝓵𝓮𝓸 💫🤍
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105. 2K Likes, 344 Comments. TikTok video from Haley Huelsman (@haleyhuelsmannn): "Hey fellow dancers here are some tricks for your solos🏼 MORE TO COME💃#dance #dancer #tricks #solo #compdancer #competition #dancetricks #solotrick". Dancers here are some tricks for your solos | quick stretch | 1.Kip Up | .... original sound.
original sound - Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Movie
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Roses (Imanbek Remix) - SAINt JHN
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original sound - CLI Studios
How to become a dancer who does not interfere with anything?
Who is a dancer? A person who moves his arms and legs to the beat of music or his own internal rhythm is the simplest definition. From the point of view of art, the body is the same instrument as the cello or violin. This instrument expresses emotions, feelings and moods. Dancing is no less an art than wielding a brush. The harmonious unity of the mind, soul and body is important here.
Someone thinks that the ability to dance is an innate talent sent from above. This is not always the case, everyone can become a dancer. Anyone who loves music, who enjoys moving to it, is in fact already a dancer, in the broadest sense of the word. However, to become a truly professional dancer, you need aspiration, desire and perseverance.
As a rule, the title of a professional is given to someone who has studied several years in a dance class. Behind him are more than a dozen performances on stage, knowledge of the names of all dance movements and a pack of costumes on hangers.
When it comes to street dancing style, the academic school will not help here. A professional on the street is the one who dances the best in the area. Many people ask: how to become a street dancer? Only one way: watch and repeat. Watch how they do, what they do, what kind of music. Repeat at home in front of the mirror, over and over, until the result is satisfactory. The style of street dancing has long been on the stage, and you can learn it in studios with teachers. Of course, even when working in the studio, you cannot do without repetitions at home. You need to constantly hone your movements.
Success in the art of dancing directly depends on the goals set. Some want to dance professionally in the styles of Hip-Hop or Go-Go, others strive for a professional career in ballroom dancing, and others have long dreamed of participating in dance theater productions. People who from the very beginning wonder how to become a professional dancer often become the leading choreographers and art directors of their own dance studios.
Where to get knowledge to achieve your goals? We have already talked about the method of observation and self-study, as well as classes in dance circles. Another way to learn is to participate in master classes by visiting specialists and dance competitions. Any professional activity, including dancing, requires the intervention of experienced teachers. Dance competitions will help you get the necessary criticisms and tips to improve your technique. Naturally, one must be prepared for disappointments. But not a single remark should stop a true dancer on the way to his goal.
When a person thinks about how to become a good dancer, he thinks about how to acquire technique and finesse of movement, while forgetting about personal qualities. But they are no less important than the baggage of knowledge and experience gained. A lot is decided by the energy and charisma of the author of the issue. Does he have a talent, or does he mechanically repeat the learned movements? Is he lethargic or does his temperament make him get up from his chair and give a standing ovation? It is personal qualities that sound the very final chord that affects success.
Along the way, in the world of dance, physical abilities are improved, as well as spiritual traits of a person's character. Success in this field can boost self-confidence.
When deciding what events to go to and how to become a dancer, the main thing to remember is that you should like the dance style. The body should literally "tear to dance" with the sounds of salsa or flamenco. Dance revives energy and mood. After all, it is not without reason that there is an opinion that dance is life.
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where to study, salary, pros and cons
Author: Professional Guide
Dancer is a person of art who performs rhythmic movements to music, taking part in theatrical performances, shows. The profession belongs to the type “a person is an artistic image”, it requires excellent self-discipline and, of course, talent. Children who distinguish literature, physical education, music and singing from all school subjects can become dancers. By the way, the ProfGid career guidance center has recently developed an accurate career guidance test that will tell you which professions suit you, give an opinion about your personality type and intelligence. 9Ol000
This profession has a rich history and is closely related to the arts. However, the success of dancers by more than 50% depends on dedication, endurance, self-discipline. A specialist can work independently, performing solo choreographic numbers, it is also worth highlighting pair and collective dances. There are a lot of types and techniques of this art direction:
- variety and folk dance;
- historical dance and others.
Also distinguish styles such as street jazz, hip-hop, R'n'B, contemporary dance, street dance, etc. Dancers choose the style and type of performing arts based on their physical abilities, temperament, personal preferences. On stage, they create artistic images, convey emotions, making the hearts of the audience tremble.
Features of the profession
Anyone can become a professional dancer, but it is worth starting training in childhood. Choreographers recommend giving children to dance studios at the age of 3-7, which will allow them to develop good posture, plasticity, stretching, a sense of rhythm and other skills necessary for professional performance. Dancers most often work in 1-2 overlapping styles, they pay special attention to training and rehearsals, maintaining excellent physical shape. A career is short, because its peak is at the age of 15-25 years, and after 30 years, most specialists change their field of activity. They can realize their talent and knowledge in other areas, working as directors, choreographers, school teachers.
Dancers independently or under the guidance of a choreographer create performances: choice of music, sequence and rhythm of movements, costumes and image, facial expressions, plasticity. Before performing the dance, they rehearse for a long time, honing their skills. Many members of this profession often travel around their home country and go abroad to give concerts. The activity is associated with certain difficulties, which leaves an imprint on the lifestyle and character of the dancer.
Pros and cons of the profession
- Excellent physical development, because dancing strengthens the body and willpower.
- Opportunity to work on the best stages.
- Talented dancers achieve success quickly.
- The profession is interesting, active and ambitious people will like it.
- Opportunity to earn income from various sources, because dancers work alone or in pairs, can take part in private productions, star in music videos.
- Useful business connections in the world of art.
- The opportunity to change the field of activity, because dancers often open schools, give private lessons, work as choreographers - the choice of directions is huge.
- High injury rate.
- Serious injuries can put an end to a professional career.
- Short career period.
- Very high competition.
Important personal qualities
Dancers have excellent plasticity, but in this profession not only technical performance is important, but also emotionality. The dancers convey the idea of the performance with the help of movements, facial expressions, so they must be distinguished by well-developed artistry. Increased efficiency, resistance to physical stress and low pain threshold are very important, because rehearsals and performances often end with sprains, dislocations and other minor injuries. Only those people who do not suffer from laziness, negligence, and excessive self-confidence ascend to the pinnacle of success.
Training for a dancer
Professional education can be obtained in various institutions:
- schools and academies of choreography;
- dance studios;
There are no special requirements for the education of a dancer, the level of his skill is determined during choreographic tests. It is worth starting training at a young age in order to reach a professional level. Let's consider the most interesting directions:
- "The art of dance (by type)", implemented in choreographic colleges and schools. You can start training after grades 7-9, which depends on the requirements of the college;
- The Art of Ballet. The direction of training is open in many creative colleges, studio schools, academies. Children who have completed the 4th grade of the school are invited to study.
You can also go to study at a university, choosing a specialty related to choreography, folk dance and other areas. Primary training can be obtained in public and private schools of choreographic art, during individual lessons.
12 budget places
23 budget places
8 budget places
16 budget places
Best Primary Schools
- Dance Quarter School.
- School for children "Dancevaliya".
- State 27 Dance Studio.
Best colleges and academies for dancers
- ARB im. A. Ya. Vaganova.
- MCU at the Moscow State Academy of Theater Arts "Gzhel".
- School-studio (school) at GAANT them. I. Moiseeva.
- KMTI im. G. P. Vishnevskaya.
- ARB them. A. Ya. Vaganova.
- Russian State University A. N. Kosygin.
Place of work
Dancers are in demand in theaters, film industry and organization of holidays and events. They can work as teachers, find vacancies in nightclubs, private groups - there are many options for employment.
There is no exact tariff rate in this segment, because everything depends on the style in which the dancer works, personal qualities, education, reputation and experience.