Modern dance Essay

1. What are the innovations of Isadora Duncan, Denishawn, Martha Graham, and Cunningham. Discuss these in relation to style, technique and theory. Many Historians say that Isadora Duncan was the first dancer to present “modern dancing” to the public. Duncan felt that the pointe shoes and costumes that ballerinas wore were to restrictive. She began to dance in a way that seemed to be more natural to her. Her inspirations came from the movements of the tress, the ocean and other forms from nature.

Her techniques included hopping, swaying, skipping and running. She felt these type of movements were natural and expressive.

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Also, the history of the Greeks inspired her to dance barefoot and wear tunics similar to those of Greek style. Isadora Duncan paved the way for all modern dancers and choreographers who were to follow her. Learning About Dance pg. 61-62 Denishawn was a dance school created in 1915 by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. Denis and Shawn were greatly inspired by different cultures, especially the Asian cultures.

Although the dances Denishawn performed weren’t authentic, they were still able to bring other countries dance views to American audiences. The purpose of Denishawn was to educate the “total” dancer.

Meaning to bring together the body , mind and spirit. Learning About Dance pg. 62-63 Martha Graham developed a technique known as “contracting” and “releasing” through the center of the body. This technique can be seen throughout many of her dances. Graham would create dances that dealt with psychological issues. She would use themes relating to American life, Greek Mythology, American Pioneers and American Indians. Learning About Dance pg. 63&71 Merce Cunningham was the first choreographer to not use “traditional” choreographic methods. He developed a new style of choreography.

He did not believe dance had to have a certain storyline or theme. His theory of dance revolved around the idea of “movement for movements sake. ” He felt that any part of the body can be used and the music, costumes design, lighting and the movements all have their own identity. He thought a dance can be about anything , just as long the main idea is about the human body moving.. In his dances he uses “chance” and “indeterminacy” methods. He uses these methods because he feels it helps him to break old habits and create exciting and new movements in dances.

By using these methods what a dance is one night might be something else by the next night. Learnig About Dance pg. 65-66 2. In depth discuss one of these artistic personas (one of four). Include the art themes, and society of the time, as well as the particular contribution to dance history. Modern dance began in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. It came directly as a revolt,what was understood as the “restrictions” of ballet. Isadora Duncan, (1877-1927), is given the credit of being the first dancer to present “modern dancing”. Other dancers, such as Loie Fuller and Maud Allan did perform dances that were new and different also.

But, Duncan’s reasons for creating and moving were different to those of Allan’s and Fuller’s. Duncan began to feel that the costumes and pointe shoes were to restricting, after years of ballet training. She left technical training and began to dance in her way. She felt her new way of dancing was more natural. These natural movements came to her from different forces of nature. Like the swaying of trees and the ocean. Her technique included movements such as skipping, running, hopping and swaying. These movements were not only natural, but also expressed her.

Her inspiration dancing barefoot and wearing tunics came from the history of the Greeks. The tunics did not confine her movements and they also showed the beauty of the female body. Duncan was also known as a rebel to many Americans. She found fame in parts of Europe and Russia, from 1907-1927. You could call Isadora Duncan the “mother of modern dance”. Isadora went out to “free” the body from the restrictions of ballet and created a truly modern form of dance. She began to show dance as the art of liberation. Learning About Dance pg. 61-62 & pg. 70

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