Modern dance distinguishes itself through the constant development of innovative forms and continued investigation into new possibilities for dance. Fresh insights in the domain of art, theatre, human movement and the functioning of the human body are creatively integrated in modern dance.
From the beginning of modern dance at the close of the nineteenth century, choreographers have searched for a unique, individual language of movement that does justice to their personal and contemporary experience of reality. The movement research that took place in the sixties was characterized by radical questions concerning dance as an art form. Work from the seventies explored the boundaries between dance and theatre.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the variety of stylistic as well as technical skills demanded of modern dancers has grown enormously. Many dance vocabularies contain explosive, dynamic and high-speed material that demands the utmost of a dancer’s flexibility and coordination. In conceptual dance productions, a dancer is expected to make a considerable creative contribution while his/her improvisation skills and theatrical qualities are no less important. New media also play an increasingly larger role in the staging of dance.
The current modern dance work field is vast, diverse and dynamic. Regularly (ad hoc) production centres and/or (small) ensembles form themselves round individual choreographers or via initiatives in which dancers collaborate. In addition, artistic directors and guest choreographers realize productions with structurally subsidized (medium) large ensembles. In all these cases, dancers play an increasingly active role in the creative process; they are expected to be capable of improvising and contributing to the composition of a performance.
In other words, a modern dancer in the twenty-first century must possess a broad range of knowledge and skills. Each dancer must attempt to find their way in this vast, dynamic and diverse world. It is therefore important that a dancer has a clear picture of his/her own qualities and skills and the demands that will be made of him/her when working with a certain choreographer. This is especially true at this current time characterized as it is by project-based work engagements that cause dancers to work in a wide variety of collaborations. Consequently, rounding off a training course does not mean that a dancer has concluded his/her education. More than ever a dancer is expected to continue learning and be open to new possibilities in the field of movement and theatre production. Considering the relative brevity of a professional dance career, these qualities will also serve dancers well in a subsequent profession.