Skip to main content

Contemporary techniques



La Ribot (France)



Cunningham, Merce (France)



Acogny, Germaine (Senegal)

Maison de la Danse de Lyon 2007 - Director : Picq, Charles

Choreographer(s) : Acogny, Germaine (Senegal)

Video producer : Maison de la Danse

Integral video available at Maison de la danse de Lyon

Take a look at this work in the video library

Kagemi [Beyond the methafors of mirror]

Amagatsu, Ushio (Japan)

Maison de la Danse de Lyon 2005

Choreographer(s) : Amagatsu, Ushio (Japan)

Video producer : Maison de la Danse

Integral video available at Maison de la danse de Lyon

Take a look at this work in the video library

À bras le corps

Charmatz, Boris (Czech Republic)


Great dance lesson with Murray Louis

Louis, Murray (France)

Contemporary techniques

Maison de la Danse de Lyon 2018 - Director : Plasson, Fabien

Choreographer(s) : Cunningham, Merce (United States) Acogny, Germaine (Senegal) Amagatsu, Ushio (Japan) Charmatz, Boris (France) Chamblas, Dimitri (France) Monnier, Mathilde (France) Nikolaïs, Alwin (United States) La Ribot (Spain)

Author : Centre national de la danse

en fr


In contemporary dance, any movement can become dance and the technical aspect consists of offering the body a great availability rather than the acquisition of a vocabulary.

The dancer is trained in order to develop his know-how and to supplement it. They can train within grande écoles, so they can follow a more personal career path. All in all, in contemporary dance, if there is a technique, it consists of several practices.



Dans EEEXEEECUUUUTIOOOOONS !!!, the vocabulary used most is that of classical ballet. One notices in particular grand jetés, entrechats, piqués and ronds de jambe. But the construction in the space, the apparent jumble of the trajectories, the repetition of the same motif and the continuous laughter that seizes the dancers are far from the referents of classical ballet. Here, La Ribot's approach is a critical one, which questions the production process, artistic as well as economic, including the use and distortion of classical technique. “The laughter in the performance involves a perverse contradiction: how can these tortuous physical exercises apparently inspire such an irrepressible pleasure?”.

Roaratorio - Merce Cunningham

In modern and contemporary dance, some choreographers have developed a specific technical approach, which is then taught and forms part of dancers' training.

Merce Cunningham developed a training program for the body enabling his dancers to master the complex dance sequences he created as well as possible. The “Cunningham technique” makes extensive use of classical technique for working the lower half of the body, but it is based on another use of the back and the spinal column. Cunningham spoke about it as follows: “Right from the beginning I looked at how to make the back and the legs, the chest and the legs work together (...). All my work with the torso starts from the trunk, from the part of the waist closest to the hips. From there, you can swing the body or twist it in all directions.”

Waxtaan - Germaine Acogny

In the second part of this extract, Waxtaan’s choreography is created using a contemporary approach. The initial style is transformed, but the techniques of the body used make reference to many traditional African dances regarding, for example, the relationship to the ground, the use of the rhythm, the coordination of the movements, the footwork and the use of a basic step.

Kagemi - Ushio Amagatsu

The company Sankai Juku, created by Ushio Amagatsu, belongs to the artistic movement of the butô, which sought to create new forms in the Japan of the 1960s, while making particular reference to the European avant-garde movement. Since its appearance, Butoh has taken on multiple forms, but preserves certain aspects of Noh or Japanese traditional dances; it takes on their slowness, the economy of movement and an important relationship to the ground that lowers the dancer's center of gravity. It is also through the role assigned to the body that the technical work is distinguished from the role required by other styles of dance.

À bras le corps - Boris Charmatz et Dimitri Chamblas

The techniques adapted by the choreographers sometimes infiltrate their creations. The dancer and choreographer Boris Charmatz trained initially in classical ballet and, even if he works in a radically contemporary spirit, this initial training also marks his experience as a dancer. This is amply discernible in À bras le corps, a piece which he created in 1983 with Dimitri Chamblas. The diversity of the techniques used by the two dancers is quite visible here and their physical proposals bring together their extensive knowledge and expertise. The aptitude for virtuosity, the use of the ground, the power of falling and the work of the breath, for example, testify here to the various practices that many contemporary dancers use in working with their body.

Grande leçon de Murray Louis - La Technique Nikolaïs

Alwin Nikolaïs distinguished the four following factors of movement: the flow of the movement, time, space and form. In his school, the classes were broken down into two hours of technique and one hour of improvisation. At Nikolaïs' school, the approach to movement favors the dynamic aspects and their transformation in space as well as the “off-centering” of the body, which involves giving an equal importance to each part of the body.

La formation Ex.e.r.ce

The techniques and body practices taught, the openness to other artistic fields and the contribution of theoretical tools are major elements of the training of the contemporary dancer. In Montpellier, the “ex.e.r.ce” training was created in 1998, led by Mathilde Monnier, then choreographer and director of the Centre chorégraphique national de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon. This training is intended as “a space of research and practical and theoretical experimentation directly related to choreographic creation”. The training is also based on the invitation of many choreographers and artists, as this film extract by Karim Zeriahen testifies this excerpt.


The Centre national de la danse (CN D) is a national art center dedicated to dance. It’s an instititution dependent on the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and devoted to dance in all its aspects: the promotion of shows and choreographers, the dissemination of choreographic culture, artistic creation, and pedagogy.


Extracts selection

Centre National de la danse


Centre National de la danse


Maison de la Danse

The "Contemporary techniques" course was created thanks to the support of the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Culture and Communication - Department for the Coordination of Cultural Policies and Innovation (SCPCI) 

Your opinion interests us
By accessing the website, you acknowledge and accept the use of cookies to assist you in your browsing.
You can block these cookies by modifying the security parameters of your browser or by clicking onthis link.
I accept Learn more