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MODERN DANCE;Definition of answer

Posted by russiantahara on February 16, 2009

modern dance, serious theatrical dance forms that are distinct from both ballet and the show dancing of the musical comedy or variety stage.The Beginnings of Modern Dance

Developed in the 20th cent., primarily in the United States and Germany, modern dance resembles modern art and music in being experimental and iconoclastic. Modern dance began at the turn of the century; its pioneers were Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller, and Ruth St. Denis in the United States, Rudolf von Laban and Mary Wigman in Germany. Each rebelled against the rigid formalism, artifice, and superficiality of classical academic ballet and against the banality of show dancing. Each sought to inspire audiences to a new awareness of inner or outer realities, a goal shared by all subsequent modern dancers.

Early Dancers in the United States

Isadora Duncan shocked or delighted audiences by baring her body and soul in what she called “free dance.” Wearing only a simple tunic like the Greek vase figures that inspired many of her dances, she weaved and whirled in flowing natural movements that emanated, she said, from the solar plexus. She aimed to idealize abstractly the emotions induced by the music that was her motivating force, daringly chosen from the works of serious composers including Beethoven, Wagner, and Gluck. Although Duncan established schools and had many imitators, her improvisational technique was too personalized to be carried on by direct successors.

The work of the two other American pioneers was far less abstract although no less free. Loie Fuller used dance to imitate and illustrate natural phenomena: the flame, the flower, the butterfly. Experimenting with stage lighting and costume, she created illusionistic effects that remained unique in the history of dance theater until the works of Alwin Nikolais in the 1960s.

The pictorial effects achieved by Ruth St. Denis had a different source: the ritualistic dance of Asian religion. She relied on elaborate costumes and sinuous improvised movements to suggest the dances of India and Egypt and to evoke mystical feelings. With Ted Shawn, who became her partner and husband in 1914 and who advocated and embodied the vigor of the virile male on the dance stage, St. Denis enlarged her repertoire to include dances of Native Americans and other ethnic groups. In 1915 St. Denis and Shawn formed the Denishawn company, which increased the popularity of modern dance throughout the United States and abroad and nurtured the leaders of the second generation of modern dance: Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman.

German Contributions

Although often considered an American phenomenon, the evolution of modern dance can also be traced to central Europe and Germany, where the most influential was probably Rudolf von Laban. Although there is almost no documentation to describe his choreography, he founded (1910) a school in Munich at which Mary Wigman was one of his students. Exiled in the 1930s, he immigrated to England, where he established (1946) the Art of Movement Studio in Manchester and worked until his death on his system of notation. After studying with Laban, Wigman performed in Germany and opened her own school in Dresden (1920). She became the most influential German exponent of expressive movement and toured extensively. Although her school was closed by the Nazis, she reopened it in Berlin in 1948. Other important and more recent German dancer-choreographers include Kurt Joos and his student Pina Bausch.

The Second Generation in America

At the end of the 1920s those who rebelled against the art nouveau exoticism and commercialism of Denishawn devised their own choreography and launched their own companies. Their dances were based on new techniques developed as vehicles for the expression of human passions and universal social themes. Martha Graham found the breath pulse the primary source of dance; exaggerating the contractions and expansions of the torso and flexing of the spine caused by breathing, she devised a basis for movement that for her represented the human being’s inner conflicts.

To Doris Humphrey, gravity was the source of the dynamic instability of movement; the arc between balance and imbalance of the moving human body, fall and recovery, represented one’s conflicts with the surrounding world. Forsaking lyrical and imitative movement and all but the most austere costumes and simplest stage effects, Graham and Humphrey composed dances so stark, intellectual, and harshly dramatic as to shock and anger audiences accustomed to being pleased by graceful dancers.

Graham explored themes from Americana, Greek mythology, and the Old Testament; she viewed music merely as a frame for the dance. Humphrey experimented more with sound; in a 1924 work she discarded music altogether and performed in silence, and later she used nonmusical sound effects, including spoken texts and bursts of hysterical laughter. Her themes were social and often heroic in scale, e.g., the trilogy New Dance (1935), which treats human relationships. Charles Weidman’s gestural mime of movements abstracted from everyday situations provided a different kind of social commentary—comic satire. Winning ardent devotees, the Graham and Humphrey-Weidman companies dominated modern dance for 20 years; the former continues as a major company today.

Later Dancers

By the end of World War II, young choreographers had begun breaking the rules of the modern dance establishment—creating dances that had no theme, expressed no emotion, dispensed with the dance vocabulary of fall and recovery, contraction and release. Sybil Shearer’s random fantasies, Katherine Litz’s surrealistic vignettes, and Erick Hawkins’s impressionistic soft rhythms changed the emphasis of choreography. They had no desire to uplift or inform.

Foremost of this third generation of modern dancers is Merce Cunningham, whose company bred avant-garde choreographers for more than 25 years. Cunningham freed dance from spatial restraints, eliminating strong central focus from choreographic patterns and devising dances that can be viewed from any angle. He also released dance from traditional musical constraints by using electronic music and other compositions of his musical director, John Cage. In addition, he liberated his own choreography from structural limitations by using techniques of chance, such as throws of the dice, to determine the order in which sections of a work should occur.

In 1957 Paul Taylor, a Cunningham and Graham veteran, presented an evening of minimal dance, which consisted of Taylor standing on the stage alone in street clothes and making only tiny changes in posture to the accompaniment of the recorded voice of a telephone operator announcing the time at 10-second intervals; outraged dance critics deliberately ignored the performance. His company ultimately became one of the most important of the post–World War II troupes. Another of the third generation, choreographer Alvin Ailey, who was influenced primarily by Lester Horton, combined elements of modern, jazz, and African dance in his work. The company he established 1958 has been internationally acclaimed and has brought recognition to many African-American and Asian dancers.

The social and artistic ferment of the 1960s provided fertile ground for even more radical departures into what later became known as postmodern dance. Twyla Tharp did away with any sound accompaniment that might distract the viewer’s attention from the dance itself. She also took dance outside the theater, staging it in such spaces as the staircase of the Metropolitan Museum of New York City and New York’s Central Park. Yvonne Rainer pioneered in the use of improvisations based on ordinary, nondance movements ranging from acrobatics, to military marching, to sports and games. Steve Paxton incorporated even more mundane actions into his dances (e.g., dressing and undressing) and went so far as to perform a duet with a chicken. Paxton, like other dancers and pop artists of the 1960s and 70s, was largely concerned with breaking down the barriers between dancers and audience, between art and life.

The Combining of Forms

By the late 20th cent., distinctions among modern dance, ballet, and show dancing were not as rigid as they once had been. Ballet technique and choreography have remained more formal than those of modern dance, but their themes and stage effects are often similar. Important modern dancers have been invited to perform with and create dances for ballet companies, and in 1990, Mikhail Baryshnikov joined with dancer-choreographer Mark Morris to form a new eclectic dance company. In addition, Paul Taylor performed with the New York City Ballet in a work created for him by George Balanchine, Taylor himself created dances for Rudolf Nureyev, and Tharp’s dancers joined the Joffrey Ballet to perform her Deuce Coupe and As Time Goes By.

Since Agnes de Mille first introduced a dance sequence as an integral part of the plot development of Oklahoma! in 1942, dance has become more than just light entertainment during interludes in the action of Broadway musicals. Anna Sokolow, of the Graham company, brought her modern dance technique to the Broadway stage, as did Hanya Holm, choreographer of Kiss Me, Kate (1948) and My Fair Lady (1956). The dance style that has evolved in musicals usually combines elements of modern dance, modern ballet, and the jazz dance that is based on Afro-Caribbean dances.

Bibliography

See autobiographies by I. Duncan (1927, repr. 1972) and R. St. Denis (1939); biographies of individual dancers; J. Martin, The Book of the Dance (1963); S. J. Cohen, ed., The Modern Dance (1965); D. McDonagh, The Rise and Fall and Rise of Modern Dance (1970); M. Lloyd, The Borzoi Book of Modern Dance (1970); S. A. Kriegsman, Modern Dance in America (1981); S. Au, Ballet and Modern Dance (1988); N. Reynolds and M. McCormick, No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century (2003).


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Wikipedia: Modern dance

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Main articles: Dance and Concert dance

Modern dance is often performed in bare feet.

Modern dance is a dance form developed in the early 20th century. Although the term Modern dance has also been applied to a category of 20th Century ballroom dances, Modern dance as a term usually refers to 20th century concert dance.

Contents

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Origins

In the early 1900s two American female dancers, Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis, as well as one German female dancer, Mary Wigman, started to rebel against the rigid constraints of Classical Ballet. Shedding the authoritarian controls surrounding classical ballet technique, costume, and shoes, these early modern dance pioneers focused on creative self-expression rather than on technical virtuosity. Modern dance is a more relaxed, free style of dance in which choreographers use emotions and moods to design their own steps, in contrast to ballet’s structured code of steps. It has a deliberate use of gravity, whereas ballet strives to be light and airy.

Modern dance is approximately 100 years old.

In the United States

In United States Loie Fuller, Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Doris Humphrey and Martha Graham developed their own styles of dance and laid the foundations of American modern dance with their choreography and teaching.Steffi Nossen was born in Berlin in 1905 and came to New York in 1937. She started dancing ballet at age three and created the longest lasting dance school in Westchester New York. She believed that “Anyone can dance, and everyone should!”. Steffi was associated with many modern dance pioneers. She created a carefully constructed a curriculum that benefits anyone and everyone. The Steffi Nossen School of Dance is filled with traditions and has benefit recitals that the dancers who attend this school put on, along with outside guests to raise money for foundations. Vanessa Williams was a student at this school and has carried on the tradition and had her daughters attend. There is a large percentage of legacy within the dance school. Over the years, the school has opened up to more than just modern dance and ballet, offering classes in jazz, hip hop, tap, and other disciplines.lalalalalalala

In Europe

In Europe Mary Wigman Francois Delsarte, Émile Jaques-Dalcroze and Rudolf von Laban developed theories of human movement and expression, and methods of instruction that led to the development of European modern and Expressionist dance. Their theories and techniques spread well beyond Europe to influence the development of modern dance and theater via their students and disciples, and subsequent generations of teachers and performers carried these theories and methods to Russia, the United States and Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

History

Free dance

Main article: Free dance
  • 1891 – Loie Fuller (a burlesque skirt dancer) began experimenting with the effect that gas lighting had on her silk costumes. Fuller developed a form of natural movement and improvisation techniques that were used in conjunction with her revolutionary lighting equipment and translucent silk costumes. She patented her apparatus and methods of stage lighting that included the use of coloured gels and burning chemicals for luminescence, and also patented her voluminous silk stage costumes.
  • 1903 – Isadora Duncan developed a dance technique influenced by the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and a belief that dance of the ancient Greeks (natural and free) was the dance of the future. Duncan developed a philosophy of dance based on natural and spiritual concepts and advocated for that acceptance of pure dance as a high art.

Fuller, Duncan and St. Denis all toured Europe seeking a wider and more accepting audience for their work. Ruth St. Denis returned to the United States to continue her work. Isadora Duncan returned to the United States at various points in her life but her work was not very well received there. She returned to Europe and died in Paris in 1927. Fuller’s work also received little support outside Europe.

Early modern dance

In 1915 Ruth St. Denis founded the Denishawn school and dance company with her husband Ted Shawn. Whilst St. Denis was responsible for most of the creative work, Shawn was responsible for teaching technique and composition. Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman were all pupils at the school and members of the dance company.

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.

  • Helen Tamiris – originally trained in free movement (Irene Lewisohn) and ballet (Michel Fokine) Tamiris studied briefly with Isadora Duncan but disliked her emphasis on personal expression and lyrical movement. Tamiris believed that each dance must create its own expressive means and as such did not develop an individual style or technique. As a choreographer Tamiris made works based on American themes working in both concert dance and musical theatre.
  • Lester Horton – choosing to work in California (three thousand miles away from the center of modern dance – New York), Horton developed his own approach that incorporated diverse elements including Native American dances and modern Jazz. Horton’s dance technique (Lester Horton Technique) emphasises a whole body approach including; flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness to allow freedom of expression.

European modern and expressionist dance

See also: Expressionist dance and Ausdruckstanz

Popularization of American Modern Dance

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. 205)

Development of modern dance

Whilst the founders on modern dance continued to make works based on ancient myths and legends following a narrative structure, their students the radical dancers saw dance as a potential agent of change. Disturbed by the Great Depression and the rising threat of fascism in Europe, they tried to raise consciousness by dramatizing the economic, social, ethnic and political crises of their time.

  • Anna Sokolow – a student of Martha Graham and Louis Horst, Sokolow created her own dance company (circa 1930). presenting dramatic contemporary imagery, Sokolow’s compositions were generally abstract; revealing the full spectrum of human experience reflecting the tension and alienation of the time and the truth of human movement.
  • José Limón – In 1946, after studying and performing with Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, Limón established his own company with Humphrey as Artistic Director. It was under her mentorship that Limón created his signature dance, The Moor’s Pavane (1949). Limón’s choreographic works and technique remain a strong influence on contemporary dance practice.
  • Merce Cunningham – a former ballet student and performer with Martha Graham, he presented his first New York solo concert with John Cage in 1944. Influenced by Cage and embracing modernist ideology using postmodern processes, Cunningham introduced chance procedures and pure movement to choreography and Cunningham technique to the cannon of 20th century dance techniques. Cunningham set the seeds for postmodern dance with his non-linear, non-climactic, non-psychological abstract work. In these works each element is in, and of itself expressive, and the observer (in large part) determines what it communicates.
  • Erick Hawkins – a student of George Balanchine Hawkins became a soloist and the first male dancer in Martha Graham’s dance company. In 1951 Hawkins, interested in the new field of kinesiology, opened his own school and developed his own technique (Hawkins technique) a forerunner of most somatic dance techniques.
  • Alwin Nikolais – a student of Hanya Holm, not only pre-empted postmodern dance but also dance technology (as did Loie Fuller) before Judson Dance Theater in the 1960s. Nikolais use of multimedia in works such as Masks, Props, and Mobiles (1953), Totem (1960), and Count Down (1979) was unmatched by other choreographers. Often presenting his dancers in constrictive spaces and costumes with complicated sound and sets he focused their attention on the physical tasks of overcoming obstacles he placed in their way. Nikolais viewed the dancer not as an artist of self-expression, but as a talent who could investigate the properties of physical space and movement.

African American modern dance

See also: African American dance

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.

  • Katherine DunhamAfrican American dancer, and anthropologist, originally a ballet dancer she founded her first company Ballet Negre in 1936 and later the Katherine Dunham Dance Company based in Chicago, Illinois. Dunham opened a school in New York (1945) where she taught Katherine Dunham Technique, a blend of African and Caribbean movement (flexible torso and spine, articulated pelvis and isolation of the and polyrhythmic movement) integrated with techniques of ballet and modern dance.
  • Pearl Primus – a dancer, choreographer and anthropologist Primus drew on African and Caribbean dances to create strong dramatic works characterized by large leaps in the air. Primus often based her dances on the work of black writers and on racial and African-American issues. Primus created works based on Langston Hughes The Negro Speaks of Rivers (1944), and Lewis Allan‘s Strange Fruit (1945). Her dance company developed into the Pearl Primus Dance Language Institute which teaches her method of blending African-American, Caribbean, and African influences with modern dance and ballet techniques.

Legacy of modern dance

Modern dance often utilizes floor work.

The legacy on 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 and Contemporary dance

Both Postmodern dance and Contemporary dance are built upon the foundations laid by Modern dance and form part of the greater category of 20th century concert dance. Where as Postmodern dance was a direct and opposite response to Modern dance, Contemporary dance draws on both modern and postmodern dance as a source of inspiration.

See also: 20th century concert dance

Teachers and their students

This list illustrates the basic teacher / student links in modern dance. For more detailed information see the individual artists entries.

See also

References

Further reading

  • Adshead-Lansdale, J. (Ed) (1994) Dance History: An Introduction. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-09030-X
  • Anderson, J. (1992) Ballet & Modern Dance: A Concise History. Independent Publishers Group. ISBN 0-87127-172-9
  • Au, S. (2002) Ballet and Modern Dance (World of Art). Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-20352-0
  • Brown, J. Woodford, C, H. and Mindlin, N. (Eds) (1998) (The Vision of Modern Dance: In the Words of Its Creators). Independent Publishers Group. ISBN 0-87127-205-9
  • Cheney, G. (1989) Basic Concepts in Modern Dance: A Creative Approach. Independent Publishers Group. ISBN 0-916622-76-2
  • Daly, A. (2002) Done into Dance: Isadora Duncan in America. Wesleyan Univ Press. ISBN 0-8195-6560-1
  • de Mille, A. (1991) Martha : The Life and Work of Martha Graham. Random House. ISBN 0-394-55643-7
  • Duncan, I. (1937) The technique of Isadora Duncan. Dance Horizons. ISBN 0-87127-028-5
  • Foulkes, J, L. (2002) Modern Bodies: Dance and American Modernism from Martha Graham to Alvin Ailey. The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-5367-4
  • Graham, M. (1973) The Notebooks of Martha Graham. Harcourt. ISBN 0-15-167265-2
  • Graham, M. (1992) Martha Graham: Blood Memory: An Autobiography. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-57441-9
  • Hawkins, E. and Celichowska, R. (2000) The Erick Hawkins Modern Dance Technique. Independent Publishers Group. ISBN 0-87127-213-X
  • Hodgson, M. (1976) Quintet: Five American Dance Companies. William Morrow and Company. ISBN 0688080952
  • Horosko, M (Ed) (2002) Martha Graham: The Evolution of Her Dance Theory and Training. University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-2473-0
  • Humphrey, D. and Pollack, B. (Ed) (1991) The Art of Making Dances Princeton Book Co. ISBN 0-87127-158-3
  • Hutchinson Guest, A. (1998) Shawn’s Fundamentals of Dance (Language of Dance). Routledge. ISBN 2-88124-219-7
  • Kriegsman, S, A.(1981) Modern Dance in America: the Bennington Years. G K Hall. ISBN 0-8161-8528-X
  • Lewis, D, D. (1999) The Illustrated Dance Technique of Jose Limon. Princeton Book Co. ISBN 0-87127-209-1
  • Long, R. A. (1995) The Black Tradition in Modern Dance. Smithmark Publishers. ISBN 0831707631
  • Love, P. (1997) Modern Dance Terminology: The ABC’s of Modern Dance as Defined by its Originators. Independent Publishers Group. ISBN 0-87127-206-7
  • McDonagh, D. (1976) The Complete Guide to Modern Dance Doubleday. ISBN 978-0385050555
  • McDonagh, D. (1990) The Rise and Fall of Modern Dance. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 1-55652-089-1
  • Mazo, J, H. (2000) Prime Movers: The Makers of Modern Dance in America. Independent Publishers Group. ISBN 0-87127-211-3
  • Minton, S. (1984) Modern Dance: Body & Mind. Morton Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0895821027
  • Roseman, J, L. (2004) Dance Was Her Religion: The Spiritual Choreography of Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis and Martha Graham. Hohm Press. ISBN 1-890772-38-0
  • Sherman, J. (1983) Denishawn: The Enduring Influence. Twayne. ISBN 0-8057-9602-9
  • Terry, W. (1976) Ted Shawn, father of American dance : a biography. Dial Press. ISBN 0-8037-8557-7
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