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"Martha Graham in 1948

Modern dance is a broad genre of western "concert or theatrical dance, primarily arising out of Germany and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Modern dance is often considered to have emerged as a rejection of, or rebellion against classical "ballet. Socioeconomic and cultural factors also contributed to its development. In the late 19th century, dance artists such as "Isadora Duncan, "Maud Allan, and "Loie Fuller were pioneering new forms and practices in what is now called aesthetic or "free dance for performance. These dancers disregarded ballet's strict movement vocabulary, the particular, limited set of movements that were considered proper to ballet, and stopped wearing corsets and pointe shoes in the search for greater freedom of movement.

Throughout the 20th century, sociopolitical concerns, major historical events, and the development of other art forms contributed to the continued development of modernist dance in the United States and Germany. Moving into the 1960s, new ideas about dance began to emerge, as a response to earlier dance forms and to social changes. Eventually, "postmodern dance artists would reject the formalism of modern dance, and include elements such as "performance art, "contact improvisation, "release technique, and improvisation.[1]

American modern dance can be divided (roughly) into three periods or eras. In the Early Modern period (c. 1880–1923), characterized by the work of Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller, "Ruth St. Denis, "Ted Shawn, and "Eleanor King, artistic practice changed radically, but clearly distinct modern dance techniques had not yet emerged. In the Central Modern period (c. 1923–1946), choreographers "Martha Graham, "Doris Humphrey, "Katherine Dunham, "Charles Weidman, and "Lester Horton sought to develop distinctively American movement styles and vocabularies, and developed clearly defined and recognizable dance training systems. In the Late Modern period (c. 1946–1957), "José Limón, "Pearl Primus, "Merce Cunningham, "Talley Beatty, "Erick Hawkins, "Anna Sokolow, "Anna Halprin, "Paul Taylor introduced clear "abstractionism and "avant-garde movements, and paved the way for "postmodern dance.[2]

Modern dance has evolved with each subsequent generation of participating artists. Artistic content has morphed and shifted from one choreographer to another, as have styles and techniques. Artists such as Graham and Horton developed techniques in the Central Modern Period that are still taught worldwide, and numerous other types of modern dance exist today.

Contents

Background[edit]

Modern dance is often considered to have emerged as a rejection of, or rebellion against classical "ballet, although historians have suggested that socioeconomic changes in both the United States and Europe helped to initiate shifts in the dance world. In America, increasing "industrialization, the rise of a middle class (which had more disposable income and free time), and the decline of "Victorian social strictures led to, among other changes, a new interest in health and physical fitness.[3] "It was in this atmosphere that a 'new dance' was emerging as much from a rejection of social structures as from a dissatisfaction with ballet."[4] During that same period, "the champions of physical education helped to prepare the way for modern dance, and "gymnastic exercises served as technical starting points for young women who longed to dance."[5] "Women's colleges began offering "aesthetic dance" courses by the end of the 1880s.[6] Emil Rath, who wrote at length about this emerging artform at the time stated,

"Music and rhythmic bodily movement are twin sisters of art, as they have come into existence simultaneously...today we see in the artistic work of Isadora Duncan, Maud Allan, and others the use of a form of dancing which strives to portray in movements what the music master expresses in his compositions—interpretative dancing."[7]

Free dance[edit]

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"Isadora Duncan in 1903

Expressionist and early modern dance in Europe[edit]

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Dancer at the "Laban school, Berlin 1929

In Europe, "Mary Wigman, "Francois Delsarte, "Émile Jaques-Dalcroze ("Eurhythmics), and "Rudolf Laban developed theories of human movement and expression, and methods of instruction that led to the development of European modern and "Expressionist dance. Other pioneers included "Kurt Jooss ("Ausdruckstanz) and "Harald Kreutzberg.

Radical dance[edit]

Disturbed by the "Great Depression and the rising threat of "fascism in Europe, the radical dancers tried to raise consciousness by dramatizing the "economic, "social, "ethnic and "political crises of their time.

In the United States[edit]

Early modern dance in America[edit]

In 1915, Ruth St. Denis founded the "Denishawn school and dance company with her husband "Ted Shawn.[10] St. Denis was responsible for most of the creative work, and Shawn was responsible for teaching technique and "composition.["citation needed] "Martha Graham, "Doris Humphrey, and "Charles Weidman were all pupils at the school and members of the dance company. Seeking a wider and more accepting audience for their work, Duncan, Fuller, and Ruth St. Denis all toured "Europe. Fuller's work also received little support outside Europe. St. Denis returned to the "United States to continue her work.

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Martha Graham and Bertram Ross in 1961; photo by "Carl van Vechten

"Martha Graham is often regarded as the founding mother of modern "20th-century concert dance.[11] Graham viewed "ballet as too one-sided: "European, "imperialistic, and un-American.[12] She became a student at the Denishawn school in 1916 and then moved to "New York City in 1923, where she performed in "musical comedies, "music halls, and worked on her own "choreography.[13] Graham developed her own "dance technique, "Graham technique, that hinged on concepts of "contraction and release.[11] In Graham's teachings, she wanted her students to "Feel". To "Feel", means having a heightened sense of awareness of being grounded to the floor while, at the same time, feeling the energy throughout your entire body, extending it to the audience.[14] Her principal contributions to dance are the focus of the ‘center’ of the body (as contrast to ballet's emphasis on limbs), coordination between "breathing and "movement, and a dancer’s relationship with the floor.[13]

After shedding the techniques and compositional methods of their teachers the early modern dancers developed their own methods and ideologies and dance techniques that became the foundation for modern dance practice:

Popularization[edit]

In 1927, newspapers regularly began assigning dance critics, such as Walter Terry, and "Edwin Denby, who approached performances from the viewpoint of a movement specialist rather than as a reviewer of music or drama. Educators accepted modern dance into college and university curricula, first as a part of physical education, then as performing art. Many college teachers were trained at the Bennington Summer School of the Dance, which was established at "Bennington College in 1934.

Of the Bennington program, Agnes de Mille wrote, "...there was a fine commingling of all kinds of artists, musicians, and designers, and secondly, because all those responsible for booking the college concert series across the continent were assembled there. ... free from the limiting strictures of the three big monopolistic managements, who pressed for preference of their European clients. As a consequence, for the first time American dancers were hired to tour America nationwide, and this marked the beginning of their solvency." (de Mille, 1991, p. 20 30

African American modern dance[edit]

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform "Revelations"

The development of modern dance embraced the contributions of African American dance artists regardless of whether they made pure modern dance works or blended modern dance with "African and "Caribbean influences.

Legacy of modern dance[edit]

The legacy of modern dance can be seen in lineage of "20th-century concert dance forms. Although often producing divergent dance forms, many seminal dance artists share a common heritage that can be traced back to free dance.

Postmodern dance[edit]

"Postmodern dance developed in the 1960s in United States when society questioned truths and "ideologies in "politics and "art. This period was marked by "social and "cultural "experimentation in the arts. Choreographers no longer created specific 'schools' or 'styles'. The influences from different periods of dance became more vague and fragmented.[11] It is very common for postmodern dance to be performed to little or no music at all.

Contemporary dance[edit]

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Danceworks rehearsal of "Stone Soup" with semi-improvised music from composer Seth Warren-Crow and Apple iLife sound clip "Tour Bus"

"Contemporary dance emerged in the 1950s as the dance form that is combining the modern dance elements and the classical "ballet elements.[15] It can use elements from non-Western dance cultures, such as African dancing with bent knees as a characteristic trait, and Butoh, Japanese contemporary dancing that developed in the 1950s.[11][16] It is also derived from modern European themes like poetic and everyday elements, broken lines, nonlinear movements, and repetition. Many contemporary dancers are trained daily in classical ballet to keep up with the technicality of the choreography given. These dancers tend to follow ideas of efficient bodily movement, taking up space, and attention to detail. Contemporary dance today includes both concert and commercial dance because of the lines being blurred by pop culture and television shows. According to Treva Bedinghaus,"Modern dancers use dancing to express their innermost emotions, often to get closer to their inner-selves. Before attempting to choreograph a routine, the modern dancer decides which emotions to try to convey to the audience. Many modern dancers choose a subject near and dear to their hearts, such as a lost love or a personal failure. The dancer will choose music that relates to the story they wish to tell, or choose to use no music at all, and then choose a costume to reflect their chosen emotions."[17]

Teachers and their students[edit]

This list illustrates some important teacher-student relationships in modern dance.

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"Rudolf von Laban and pupils at his dance school, Berlin 1929

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Scheff, Helene; Marty Sprague; Susan McGreevy-Nichols (2010). Exploring dance forms and styles: a guide to concert, world, social, and historical dance. Human Kinetics. p. 87. "ISBN "0-7360-8023-6. 
  2. ^ Legg, Joshua (2011). Introduction to Modern Dance Techniques. Hightstown, NJ: Princeton Book Company. p. xviii. "ISBN "978-0-87127-3253. 
  3. ^ Kurth, P. (2001). Isadora: A sensational life. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. pp. 28–29. 
  4. ^ Legg, Joshua (2011). Introduction to Modern Dance Techniques. Hightstown, NJ: Princeton Book Company. p. 1. "ISBN "978-0-87127-3253. 
  5. ^ Anderson, Jack (1997). Art Without Boundaries: The world of modern dance. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. p. 8. 
  6. ^ McPherson, Elizabeth (2008). The Contributions of Martha Hill to American Dance and Dance Education, 1900-1995. Lewisto n: The Edwin Mellen Press. p. 5. 
  7. ^ Rath, Emil (1914). Aesthetic Dancing. New York: A. S. Barnes Company. p. v-vi. 
  8. ^ Ware, Susan. "Notable American Women". Harvard University Press, 2004, p. 305-306.
  9. ^ Siegel, Marcia B. "The Shapes of Change: Images of American Dance". University of California Press, 1979, p. 168-169.
  10. ^ Cullen, Frank. "Vaudeville: Old & New". Psychology Press, 2007, p. 449.
  11. ^ a b c d "Origins of Contemporary Dance". Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "Modern Dance Pioneers". Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "Modern Dance History". Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  14. ^ Bird's Eye View: Dancing with Martha Graham and on Broadway/Dorothy Bird and Joyce Greenberg; with an introduction by Marcia B. Siegel, 1997
  15. ^ "Difference Between Modern and Contemporary Dance". Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  16. ^ "Contemporary Dance History". Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "What Is Modern Dance?". Retrieved 20 November 2013. 

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

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