Around 1980s, the world "contemporary dance" referred to the movement of new dancers who did not want to follow strict classical ballet and lyrical dance forms, but instead wanted to explore the area of revolutionary unconventional movements that were gathered from all dance styles of the world. Contemporary dances therefore do not use fixed moves and instead try to develop totally new forms and dynamics, such as quick oppositional moves, shifting alignments, expressions of raw emotions, systematic breathing, dancing moves preformed in non-standing positions (for example lying on the floor), and in general trying to find the absolute limits of our human form and physique.
The origins of this popular dance movement can be traced to several influential dance masters such as Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. They all wanted to show to the world that contemporary dancers should embrace freedom, ignore old dance conventions and explore the limits of the human body and visual expression of feelings. Also, one of the precursors to the contemporary dance can be found in the millennia's old techniques of Zen Buddhism and Indian Health Yoga, which incorporates various dancing philosophies that closely follow the principles of contemporary dance.
Dancer who introduced and greatly popularized the contemporary dance to the worldwide audience was Martha Graham (1894 - 1991). During her seven decade long career, her modern dance and choreographies gathered the fame that is today compared to the life works of legendary art geniuses such as Picasso, Stravinski and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Merce Cunningham refined the work that his colleague Martha Graham formed, and expanded with this his own improvements, choreographies and avant-garde dance techniques. During his long career he was regarded as one of the greatest creative forces in American dance, education dozens of worldwide famous dancers and thousands professional dancers who preserved his style until today.
Lester Horton was a very influential contemporary dance visionary, who trained many famous modern dancers and managed to incorporate the styles of Native American dance and modern jazz into his dance techniques.