Contemporary Dance Playlist by Lindsay Jenkins


The constant search for new and interesting music for classes and performances is something I hear other contemporary dance teachers talking about all the time. Because contemporary dance encapsulates such a huge variety of styles, creative approaches and themes, it’s often the case that a playlist even for one class will feature greatly diverse musical choices. This playlist features a selection of music that I have turned to numerous times when working with different age-groups and movement tasks.

Some of these tracks are included as they represent artists or albums that I would like to recommend as a whole, such as Bonobo, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Cinematic Orchestra and Phillip Glass. Bonobo, for example, produces busy, percussive music ideal for energetic warm-ups and corner work, as well as more atmospheric tracks that lend themselves to creative or improvisation tasks. Phillip Glass, on the other hand, can be great for finding clean, minimal compositions as well as more complex, layered pieces with a classical feel.

Sometimes in the search of ‘new’ music, I find myself re-discovering old tracks, which can work so well in contemporary classes. Jazz and blues music, such as the Nina Simone track featured, can work well with movement phrases that require a theatrical quality. I also find that soundtracks for films, such as the soundtrack for Amelie written by Yann Tiersen, provide a really rich selection of tracks that tend to be cinematic, emotive or atmospheric and are a great resource for a dance class.

It goes without saying that finding the ideal track for your class or performance depends entirely on the purpose of a movement task or creative intentions of a piece, and so this playlist is intended to be a starting point for inspiration. My advice is to listen to as much music of every genre as you can and to make notes of what moves or inspires you – even if it doesn’t suit your needs now, it might be perfect later on.

Finally, in addition to building an extensive and diverse music library, it is also worth considering the use of live music or percussion – however simple – which can provide energy, flexibility and endless possibilities for collaborative work.


Notes and music choices selected by Lindsay Jenkins
Photo Credit: Teo La Dodici