Modern Dance

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Kanghua Chen
Dance 270
Baker, Janice A
2/18/2013

Modern Dance Summary

Modern Dance is tradition of theatrical dance unique to the 20th century. Modern dance flourished in areas that lacked strong ballet traditions, such as in the United States where ballet companies were imported from Europe. Although modern dance originated in Europe, by 1930 the United States had become the center for dance experimentation. Many early modern dances were miniatures—solos of highly compressed effect. They were unlike anything known, for dance at that time was dominated by late 19th-century ballets, which were characterized by large casts, a great variety of dance numbers, and spectacular scenic effects. But ballet itself was not always so monumental in scale, and just as ballet has evolved over the centuries as a changing tradition, so also has modern dance during its shorter period of existence.

Modern dance encourages dancers to use their emotions and moods to design their own steps and routines. It is not unusual for dancers to invent new steps for their routines, instead of following a structured code of technique, as in ballet. Another characteristic of modern dance in opposition to ballet is the deliberate use of gravity. Whereas classical ballet dancers strive to be light and airy on their feet, modern dancers often use their body weight to enhance movement. This type of dancer rejects the classical ballet stance of an upright, erect body, often opting instead for deliberate falls to the floor. In class, we’ve seen many presentations about modern dance pioneers, like Loie Fuller, Ruth St. Denis, Rudolf Laban, Kurt Jooss and etc.

Martha Graham is considered one of the foremost pioneers of American modern dance. In order to express the passion, rage and ecstasy of humans, she developed her very own language of movement. She created a new dance technique similar to classical ballet, but with several differences. She focused heavily on basic human movement,...
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