Back when “modern dance” meant Martha Graham, we knew what modern was. It reacted against the airborne nature of ballet and went for a more earthy, on-American-soil approach. Then Merce Cunningham came along. He was drastically different; he put his faith in movement for its own sake rather than as a vehicle to tell stories or portray psychological states of mind. The dance world had to find a new name, so we called it “contemporary dance.” But now, with all the dance on television, the term “contemporary” has slid around to mean several different styles. Mulling over the still-shifting use of these words, we at Dance Magazine decided to canvass key figures in the field to get their takes on the difference between modern and contemporary. Turn to “Modern vs. Contemporary: Which Is More Now?” to see 10 different opinions.
It’s Nutcracker season, and we report on four new Nutcrackers in “Dance Matters.” We also have a “Centerwork” on coaching the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis students who perform in American Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker. In this intriguing production, Alexei Ratmansky has integrated the children into the story more than usual. His snow scene begins with Clara and her Nutcracker innocently playing in the snow and escalates to a frightening storm—through wildly musical choreography. Read Elaine Stuart’s “When Kids Run the Show” to see how the children animate the story. And to all Nutcracker dancers everywhere, have a good holiday season!
Photo of Parisa Khobdeh, above, and photo of Wendy Perron, at top, by Matthew Karas.