What is modern dance?
Modern dance is a broad genre of western concert and theatrical dance, primarily arising out of Germany and the United States in the 19th and 20th century. During the 1900's, European dancers began rebelling against the rigid rules of classical ballet. Turning against the structured techniques, costumes, and shoes of ballet, these dancers favored a more relaxed, freestyle form of dancing. For example, modern dance pioneers often danced in bare feet. In the United States, several dance pioneers paved the way for American modern dance, including the legendary Martha Graham.
How did modern dance come about?
Modern was a rebellion against classical ballet because they felt it was too restricting. Modern dance can be fast, slow, high impact, gentle, loud, silent, frantic and still. It's a mix of all the dances - it's every type of movement, tempo and feeling you can imagine.
What does it look like?
Some of the common modern movements are:
Curl up and curl down
Use of space: While ballet dancers typically face the audience directly, modern dancers use all directions, even completely turning their back on the audience.
Relationship to music: In ballet, the dancer's movements correspond harmoniously with the music, but in modern dance, dancers may dance off-beat or in contrast to the music, ignore the music completely, or dance on a silent stage.
Performers: They may work alone or with smaller dance troupes. Women also gained recognition and influence as choreographers.
Movement: Ballet has a very strictly defined set of movements that get pieced together to create different dances. In modern dance, however, dancers create a new language of movement with every piece, experimenting with how they can manipulate the body.
Martha Graham is considered one of the foremost pioneers of American modern dance. In order to express the passion, rage, and happiness of humans, she developed her very own language of movement.
She focused heavily on basic human movement, concentrating on the movements of contraction and release. Instead of long, fluid movements, Graham's movements were sharp and jagged. Her dancing aimed to expose basic human emotions through movement, and her brave vision for modern dance earned her several awards and honors.
What is modern dance?
Dance Magazine Article
Let's take a look at a contemporary/modern piece