Contemporary Dance: The Meanings of Gesture

In the context of contemporary dance, the outstretched hands and open palms gesture can carry multiple symbolic meanings, depending on the choreographer’s or dancer’s interpretation. This movement can convey emotions, moods or emphasize certain ideas. Here are some possible interpretations of the symbolism of this gesture in contemporary dance, when performed by a single dancer and when a group of synchronized dancers is involved:

  1. Solo Dancer:

Expression of freedom: Hands outstretched upwards can symbolize liberation and the search for freedom. The dancer can convey a desire to rise above constraints or overcome obstacles in life.
Connection with the divine: The gesture may indicate a connection with the divine or a spiritual quest. Reaching out to the sky can be interpreted as a desire for connection to something greater or the transcendent.

  1. Group of synchronized dancers:

Unity and solidarity: Hands held up by a group of dancers can symbolize solidarity and unity. This movement can illustrate the idea that despite individual differences, group members are united in a common expression.
Searching together: The gesture may suggest a collective search or exploration of a common goal. The dancers, through their synchronized movements, can communicate the idea that they are involved in a journey together, with the same direction and intention.

  1. General symbolism:

Openness and Vulnerability: Open hands can symbolize openness and vulnerability. Dancers can convey the idea that they are exposing themselves to the public or that they are sharing their emotions and inner states.
Expansiveness and creativity: The gesture can reflect a state of expansiveness and creativity. Outstretched hands can suggest exploration of space and free expression of ideas or emotions.
It is important to emphasize that the interpretation of symbolism in contemporary dance can vary and that each choreographer or dancer can bring their own connotations and meanings to a performance.

What I did was to visually interpret this gesture from drawing lines and let the viewer choose for himself the symbolism closest to what he feels. By tracing the lines of the dance, we provided space for personal interpretations and individual connections, turning this movement into an interactive experience between the dancer and the viewer. Thus, each observer becomes an integral part of the creation, adding their own meaning to the upstretched hand gesture.

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