Canada's Kaha:wi Dance Theatre in Re-Quickening, a collaborative work by multiple female artists (Nyberg Productions, courtesy Kaha:wi Dance Theatre)

Discover the Wide World of Contemporary Dance

Nederlands Dans Theater. Batsheva Dance Company. RUBBERBANDance Group. These companies top the dream-job list of many contemporary dancers, thanks to their amazingly inventive choreography and culturally specific approach to dance. They're part of the wider world of contemporary and all its innovations—a world that extends far beyond the U.S. We rounded up boundary-pushing troupes from different continents so you can sample what contemporary dance looks like the world over.

Kaha:wi Dance Theatre

Location: Canada

Kaha:wi Dance Theatre blends indigenous and contemporary styles to create something unique. “My approach is from a 'Konkwehon:we,' or 'real woman,' perspective, where dance is sacred, transformative and medicine for the people," says artistic director Tekaronhiáhkhwa Santee Smith (Kahnyen'kehàka Nation). “The company's process is interdisciplinary, intergenerational and intercultural. By holding the past, present and future together, we aim to overcome a traditional versus contemporary binary."

Malpaso Dance Company in Osnet Delgado's "Despedida" (David Garten, courtesy Sunny Artist Management)

Malpaso Dance Company

Location: Cuba

Though it's only been around since 2012, Malpaso Dance Company has earned international recognition through performances at Jacob's Pillow in Massachusetts and The Joyce Theater in NYC, among other venues. With a technique that merges American modern dance, Cuba's African and Spanish influences and a more fluid European style, Malpaso and fellow Cuban companies—like Danza Contemporánea de Cuba and Carlos Acosta's new group Acosta Danza—are set to supercharge the Cuban dance scene. “Cuban contemporary dance can be explored in many directions. There's the influence of distinct religions and cultures, along with the technical element of modern dance," says Malpaso founder Fernando Sáez Carvajal. “Cuba might seem like an isolated island, but it's alsoa place of exchange."

Gauthier Dance in Garrett Moulton's "Infinite Sixes" (Regina Brooke, courtesy Gauthier Dance)

Gauthier Dance

Location: Germany

Gauthier Dance is relatively new to the venerated European contemporary dance scene. Though it's fewer than 10 years old, it has toured internationally, acquired an impressive repertory (including work by Alejandro Cerrudo, William Forsythe and Jirˇí Kylián) and established an annual fundraiser for Alzheimer's research. “What I find mind-blowing is that in Germany, the audience is so knowledgeable and appreciative," artistic director Eric Gauthier says. “They go the extra mile to show their enthusiasm."

Dada Masilo/The Dance Factory

Location: South Africa

Choreographer Dada Masilo is known for her reimagined classics: Rather than featuring an ethereal flock of white swans, her Swan Lake tackles heavy issues like sexual orientation in a culture of violence. She mixes African dance with ballet to create a movement vocabulary that includes both pointe shoes and bare feet.

Vertigo Dance Company

Location: Israel

Much like Germany and the Netherlands, Israel has become a contemporary dance destination, with multiple groups (Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company and L-E-V, to name a few) drawing dancers from all over the world. Vertigo Dance Company was founded in 1992 by Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha'al and includes a main company and an extensive dance education program. “Dance is not an obvious part of Jewish tradition," Sha'al says, “yet a sense of freedom has motivated many Israelis to create in this field." Wertheim adds: “My recent works further develop our company's concept of reaching out, bridging over and connecting different worlds."

Cullberg Ballet's Samuel Draper in Cristian Duarte's "Against the Current, Glow" (Urban Jörén, courtesy Cullberg Ballet)

Cullberg Ballet

Location: Sweden

Cullberg Ballet, founded in 1967, has long been at the forefront of the contemporary dance world, thanks to the company's relationship with choreographer Mats Ek. “A sense of humor, and sometimes irony, is characteristic of work by Mats Ek, Birgit Cullberg and Alexander Ekman," says Cullberg Ballet artistic director Gabriel Smeets. “And many young Swedish choreographers engage with subjects like the environment and how we take care of the planet."

Korean National Contemporary Dance Company

Location: South Korea

T.H.E Dance Company in Kuik Swee Boon's "As It Fades" (Bernie NG, courtesy T.H.E Dance Company)

Bangarra Dance Theatre

Location: Australia

Bangarra Dance Theatre is deeply committed to the ancestral heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Australia. The company fuses ancient storytelling with contemporary movement and makes a point of touring regionally, so that people in Australia's far-flung towns can see performances.

T.H.E Dance Company

Location: Singapore

The Human Expression (T.H.E) Dance Company was founded by Kuik Swee Boon in 2008 and focuses on inclusivity and the diverse voices of the Singapore community. “We remind ourselves to keep our hearts open to tolerance and progressive thought," Boon says. “T.H.E often focuses on our cultural heritage or concerns about the environment—what makes us a collective and what makes us individuals."

Latest Posts

Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search