Discover the Wide World of Contemporary Dance

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

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."

Show Comments ()
Dance News
Sofia Wylie (photo by Dave Brewer, courtesy Disney Channel)

Last week Disney Channel star Sofia Wylie released a behind-the-scenes look at the making of her YouTube dance series. Along with some stellar dancing, the video shows the dance community featured in her "4k Dance Series" and the things they've learned from being a part of the dance project. And though the project features dance, we love that it also emphasizes supporting and building up fellow dancers.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Showstopper's National Finals Opening Number Performance

Showstopper has been making its impact on the dance world since 1978. Before then, dancers didn't have a stage to perform on, the opportunity to learn from peers, or a competitive outlet like most sports. Debbie Roberts recognized this missing piece in the dance community and that is how America's first and longest running dance competition, Showstopper, was born. Debbie taught dance for over 26 years and owned and operated her own dance studio for 20 years. She is now the owner and National Director of Showstopper, along side her husband, Dave Roberts. Dancer, teacher, business owner, author, and mother, Debbie has made dance her life's career.

Keep reading... Show less
Oh, hi, EVERYBODY. (Screenshots via YouTube)

Sometimes, you hear talk about an upcoming class video and it sounds too good to be real. Wait: Todrick Hall made a track featuring RuPaul, and then Todrick personally asked Brian Friedman to choreograph it, and then Brian got Maddie and Charlize and Jade and Kaycee and Sean and Gabe and Larsen and Bailey to come out for the class? I just...that can't be right. Can it?

It is right, friends. It is SO RIGHT.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
A-DAM RIP-PON [clap, clap, clap clap clap] (with his equally gorgeous partner Jenna Johnson; Craig Sjodin/ABC)

Team USA is totally taking over "Dancing with the Stars" this season! Casting for the upcoming athletes-only "DWTS" cycle, which kicks off April 30, was just announced. And the roster includes a whole bunch of Olympic favorites—including not one, not two, but three figure-skating standouts.

Keep reading... Show less
All of the claps for Brianna Bundick-Kelly.

Her name is Briyoncé, and she came to SLAY.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular

Winter is drawing to a close and you know what that means -- It's time to really kick this year into gear! Move U has done the research so you can find your best match, look good, and feel great this season with a twist unique to your team! Here are five looks to put your performance on the map in 2018.

Keep reading... Show less
Cover Story
Photo by Lucas Chilczuk

With several Shaping Sound tours and TV credits like "So You Think You Can Dance," "Dancing with the Stars," and "Boardwalk Empire" to her name, you wouldn't expect Kate Harpootlian to be refreshingly down-to-earth. But that's exactly how she is: As soon as you start talking to the gifted dancer and choreographer, it becomes clear that she doesn't take herself too seriously. And she's happy to tell hilarious stories to prove it. (Ask her about the time she did a Mr. Peanut impression when Mia Michaels asked her to improvise, or the time she starred in a Japanese makeup commercial and had to do grand pliés wearing one pointe shoe and one flat shoe.)

That mixture of humor and grace is evident in Harpootlian's growing body of choreographic work. Her one-act show Better Late Than Never, for example, which premiered last summer, has a jazzy, West Side Story vibe, offsetting heavier moments with touches of whimsy. "There's always a balance in my work," Harpootlian says. "I want to use humor to balance out the darker aspects. It's like one of my friends once said: 'You make me laugh, and then you make me feel bad for laughing.' "

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morg

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I grip my quads, and I don't know how to stop. I'm totally overdeveloping my quad muscles. How can I retrain myself so I use my legs correctly? Help!

Lily

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Justin Boccitto relies on a grounded plié to create a smooth landing out of a turn. (photo by James Jin Photography, courtesy Boccitto)

You know that pirouette dream, when your placement is so perfect you can keep turning forever? That dream is the reality for highly technical tappers, who benefit from the decreased friction of their shoes. Get the placement right and, with a strong spot, they can pirouette for days.

But turning in tap shoes isn't all easy. In fact, those delightfully friction-free shoes bring their own set of challenges, and dancers can easily fall into the spinning-top trap by letting the turn control them, rather than the other way around. Here's how to harness your tap-turning potential.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Videos
Dewan getting emotional in "A Little Dance" (via YouTube)

Given that we're still processing our own sadness about the recent dissolution of the couple formerly known as #TeamTatum, we can only imagine how many feelings Jenna Dewan must be feeling. But like all dancers, Dewan knows the best way to deal with big emotions is to dance through them.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Want to Be on Our Cover?

covermodelsearch-image

Video

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Sponsored