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Health – Optimizing P.E
Grade 12 - Tennessine
What is Modern Dance?
a form of
theatrical and concert
employs a special technique
for developing the use of the
entire body in movements
expressive of abstract ideas
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
is often considered to have emerged as a
rejection of, or rebellion against, classical
• 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.
1. 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
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
Late Modern period (c. 1946–1957)
José Limón,Pearl Primus, Merce
Cunningham, Talley Beatty, Erick Hawkins,
Anna Sokolow, Anna Halprin and Paul Taylor
introduced clear abstractionism and avant-
garde movements, and paved the way for
postmodern dance.
1877: Isadora Duncan was a predecessor of
modern dance with her stress on the center or
torso, bare feet, loose hair, free-flowing
costumes, and incorporation
of humor into emotional expression. She was
inspired by classical Greek arts, folk dances, social
dances, nature, natural forces, and new American
athleticism such as skipping, running, jumping,
leaping, and abrupt movements.
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.
1905: Ruth St. Denis, influenced by
the actress Sarah Bernhardt and
Japanese dancer Sada Yacco,
developed her translations of Indian
culture and mythology
Expressionist Dance
- is a term for a movement that arose in
1900 as a protest against the artistic
stagnation of classical ballet and towards
maturity in the future of art in general.
Traditional ballet was perceived as the
austere, mechanical and tightly held in
fixed and conventional forms
This new dance was freer, natural and
less rule-governed. It was strongly
influenced by the passage of
the expressionistic visual arts.
Expressionist dance flourished
until World War II, when it disappeared
almost completely in Central Europe.
Emmy Towsey (Taussig)
and Evelyn
Ippen, Bodenwieser
Ballet in Centennial
Dance students
from Rudolf
von Laban’s
dance school
Martha Graham in 1948
Duncan in
Dancer at the Laban
school, Berlin 1929
Martha Graham and
Bertram Ross in 1961
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
perform "Revelations"
What Are the Characteristics of Modern
a dance style that focuses on a dancer's
own interpretations instead of structured
reject the limitations of classical ballet and
favor movements derived from the
expression of their inner feelings
dancers favored a more relaxed, freestyle
form of dancing
is the deliberate use of gravity
Martha Graham is
considered one of the
foremost pioneers of
American modern dance.
Modern Dance Routines Today
Here are some of the steps that dancers take when
developing a routine:
• Before attempting to choreograph a routine, the modern
dancer decides which emotions to try to convey to the
• Many modern dancers choose a subject near and dear to
their hearts, such as a lost love or a personal failure.
• The dancer then chooses music that relates to the story
they wish to tell or choose to use no music at all,
followed by a costume to reflect their chosen emotions.
What Is Contemporary Dance?
Contemporary dance is a style of
expressive dance that combines elements
of several dance genres
including modern, jazz, lyrical and
classical ballet.
Contemporary dancers strive
to connect the mind and the
body through fluid dance
The term "contemporary" is somewhat
misleading: it describes a genre that
developed during the mid-20th century
and is still very popular today.
Overview of Contemporary Dance
Contemporary dance stresses
versatility and improvisation, unlike the strict,
structured nature of ballet. Contemporary
dancers focus on floorwork, using gravity to
pull them down to the floor. This dance genre
is often done in bare feet. Contemporary
dance can be performed to many different
styles of music.
Historic Roots of Contemporary Dance

During the 19th century, theatrical

dance performances were synonymous
with ballet. Ballet is a formal technique
that developed from court dance during
the Italian Renaissance and became
popular as a result of the support of
Catherine de' Medici.
Around the end of the 19th century,
several dancers began to break the ballet
mold. Some of these individuals
included Francois Delsarte, Loïe Fuller, and
Isadora Duncan, all of whom developed
unique styles of movement based on
theories of their own. All focused less on
formal techniques, and more on emotional
and physical expression.
Between about 1900 and 1950, a new
dance form emerged which was dubbed
"modern dance." Unlike ballet or the
works of Duncan and her "Isadorables,"
modern dance is a formalized dance
technique with a specific aesthetic.
Developed by such innovators as Martha
Graham, modern dance is built around
breathing, movement, contraction, and
release of muscles.
Today's Contemporary Dance
Today's contemporary dance is an
eclectic mix of styles, with
choreographers drawing from ballet,
modern, and "post-modern"
(structureless) forms of dance. While
some contemporary dancers create
characters, theatrical events, or stories,
others perform entirely new creations as
they improvise in their own unique style.
Contemporary Dance