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Difference Between Modern and Contemporary Dance

Modern vs Contemporary Dance

It is not certain when man started to learn how to dance, but dancing has been an integral part of human history. As evidenced by the rituals and customs handed down through generations, the dance is one art form that has been used by man to express himself.

It is a way for people to communicate with one another, of expressing one’s ideas and emotions. It provides a way for people to socialize and interact with each other and, in most cases, dances usually tell stories.
One can dance solo, with a partner, or in a group. A dance can be performed with any type of music, the beat of drums in a ceremonial dance or to the music of a waltz or tango. There are also several classifications of dance, two of which are modern dance and contemporary dance.

Modern dance was developed in the early 1900s, the time when dancers came out against the stiffness and restraints of classical ballet. It created its own techniques, costumes, shoes, and gave more attention to self-expression and individual creativity rather than technical expertise. It allows dancers and choreographers to create steps using their moods and emotions producing a more relaxed dance style. Initially, modern dance was based on myths and legends but later came to dramatize the ethnic, social, economic, and political climate of the time.

In later years, modern dance became influenced by dances from different countries, including African, Caribbean, and Latin. Today, modern dance is more technical and addresses more issues than when it was created. It paved the way to the development of the concert dance, one type of which is the contemporary dance. It uses ballet, modern, and postmodern dance techniques while at the same time letting dancers use their artistic and creative abilities.

Contemporary dance may include techniques that are found in ballet and modern dance such as floor work, fall and recovery, improvisation, even incorporating yoga, pilates, and martial arts together with techniques introduced by such famous dancers as Graham, Hawkins, Horton, and Cunningham.

While both modern dance and contemporary dance have developed to allow dancers and choreographers to have more room for self-expression and break away from traditional dance, modern dance focuses more on emotions and moods while contemporary dance focuses on creating new techniques and styles.
Contemporary dance creates lighter and more fluid movements emphasizing the connection between one’s body and mind. Modern dance, on the other hand, is more influenced by ballet and jazz which utilizes gravity in their techniques.


1.Modern dance is a type of dance which was created by early 20th century dancers and choreographers as a way of renouncing the strictness of classical ballet while contemporary dance is a type of concert dance which was developed from modern and postmodern dance.
2.Modern dance focuses on emotions and moods while contemporary dance focuses on creating new techniques and movements.
3.The movements of contemporary dance are more fluid and lighter than that of modern dance.
4.Modern dance is influenced by ballet and jazz while contemporary dance has more diverse influences.

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