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Contemporary Dance stems from the core, or torso, of the body and uses elements of contract, release, spiral, floor work, fall and recovery, and improvisation. This evolving style has fast become one of the most dominant genres for dancers throughout the world.


The History of Contemporary Dance

Contemporary dance history has its roots in the 20th century when American dancers rebelled against the strict rules of ballet in order to develop a more natural way of dancing. What is called ‘Contemporary Dance’ in Britain grew out of the ‘Modern Dance’ that arose in Central Europe and the USA. Thus, important here, amongst others in Central Europe, were Rudolf Laban, Harold Kreutzbeg and later Mary Wigman and Kurt Joss. In the USA there were Ruth St, Denis and Ted Shawn, Isadora Duncan and later Doris Humphrey, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and Robert Cohan. Always changing and ever-evolving, contemporary dance techniques encourage and reward creative freedom and artistic expression.

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Start Your Teaching Journey...

If you’re starting out on your dance teaching journey or want to increase your repertoire, our new comprehensive contemporary dance class syllabus offers the necessary tools to deliver an informed and complete approach to teaching contemporary dance, helping your students feel inspired, challenged and empowered.

Teachers wishing to teach our Contemporary syllabus will need to attend one of our CPD courses, specifically designed to provide teachers with the insight and tools they need to teach this work to their students. Please note that syllabus resources are only available to purchase for those who have attended a course and include a DVD, CD and syllabus notes.

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We are pleased to announce that Intermediate Contemporary examinations will be available to book in England and Internationally from 1 May 2021. Intermediate Foundation level exams are also available. Book your exam session online via Quest today.

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Contemporary Dance Exams & Qualification

The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing contemporary dance exams are recognised internationally for their quality and excellence. Please note that the lower age limit for Intermediate Foundation exam entries is 13 years old. Students must have passed the Intermediate Foundation exam before they are able to enter for the Intermediate Level.


The Contemporary Dance Syllabus

Created by Dr Ross McKim, the well-known dancer, choreographer, philosopher, and Artistic Director of the Rambert School (from 1985–2015), our Contemporary dance syllabus is informed by Eastern concepts of subtle energy and draws influence from choreographers Graham, Hawkins and Cohan. This syllabus aims to introduce students to the fundamentals of Contemporary dance technique and performance by approaching different movement themes at each level, specially created solos and the inclusion of structured improvisation to enable students to explore, develop and create their own movement vocabulary. We have developed three levels of the syllabus: Intermediate Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced 1.

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Contemporary Affiliate Membership

New Contemporary Dance Affiliate membership is available for teachers and professional dancers who are not already Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing members, allowing you to submit your students for our exams.

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"The dance sector has much to gain from this training syllabus which not only adds value to what we do, but how we do it!"

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NSCD CEO & Principal, choreographer of solo (Adv 1)

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