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MODERN DANCE: THE ART OF THE ICONOCLAST THREE QUESTIONS (AND ANSWERS TO FOLLOW). 1. How has the development of modern dance revolutionized dance performance?

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modern dance the art of the iconoclast
MODERN DANCE:THE ART OF THE ICONOCLAST

THREE QUESTIONS (AND ANSWERS TO FOLLOW).

1. How has the development of modern dance revolutionized dance performance?

  • 2. Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), Martha Graham (1894-1991), and Katherine Dunham (1909) each had her own vision of what dance should say. How were their views similar? How were there views different? What is each ultimately known for?
  • 3. How does modern dance make dance more accessible to everyone (ie, Judson Church, Liz Lerman, White Oak Project)?
question 1 how has the development of modern dance revolutionized dance performance
Question 1: How has the development of modern dance revolutionized dance performance?
  • Freedom of expression is key to the revolution of all the arts in the 20th century. Modern dance liberated the “individual voice,” allowing a great diversity of styles and points of view to emerge during the 20th century. Rather than perpetuate the limited, well-defined set of steps and movement which typified ballet of the 19th century, modern dance valued invention and innovation, which challenged and invigorated ballet as well. Modern dance choreographers often worked from their own bodies as the source for movement invention—creating as many approaches to dance as there were bodies to dance — breaking the mold of those who came before them.
question 2
Question 2:
  • Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), Martha Graham (1894-1991), and Katherine Dunham (1909) each had her own vision of what dance should say. How were their views similar? How were there views different? What is each ultimately known for?
isadora duncan founding mother of modern dance
Isadora Duncan: Founding Mother of Modern Dance
  • In her own words: “I am an enemy of the Ballet, which I consider a false and preposterous art…” Ballet requires a “deformed skeleton” and “sterile movements” whose “purpose is to create the delusion that the law of gravitation does not exist for them.” Duncan defied artifice and created dance from three sources: 1.nature, 2.the art of classical Greece, and 3.inside herself. Barefoot and free from the confines of the corsets of the day, she danced alone—as an individual — in naturalistic movements (based upon running, skipping, jumping) matching the dynamics of “serious” concert music (Bach, Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven and Wagner).
martha graham founding mother of modern dance technique
MARTHA GRAHAM: FOUNDING MOTHER OF MODERN DANCE TECHNIQUE
  • Graham rejected the romanticism of Duncan and the oriental borrowings of Ruth St. Denis and strove to create a new vocabulary of movements that could reflect contemporary life-angular, jarring, sharp, and intense. She created a technique based upon breathing-”Contraction” (exhalation of breath with accompanying contraction of the front of the torso) and “release” (inhalation of breath with accompanying extension of the torso). The technique allowed for an ingenious use of the floor, and gravity, a first in modern dance. Her choreographic themes included sexuality, psychological struggles, and Greek myths. Graham created over 170 dance works. The 20th century’s modern dance icon, she gave her first concert in 1926, Graham continued to tour the Martha Graham Dance Company and create dances for the company right up until her death in 1991.
katherine dunham uncovering the roots of african american dance
KATHERINE DUNHAM: UNCOVERING THE ROOTS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN DANCE
  • Born in 1909, Dunham performed extensive fieldwork-particularly in Haiti- to enable her to create modern dance from the roots of African American dance. She strove to develop a dance technique, based in African dance, that would bring Black dance to equal status of white dance in the dance world and, in her words, “…give to the Negro dance-student the courage really to study, and a reason to do so.” She created the Dunham technique based upon the Africanist aesthetic principles summarized by Brenda Dixon Gottschild (see DAN 2100 “African Roots” web page). Of all modern dance pioneers, Dunham ‘s work was most broadly based. She worked not only on the concert stage, but on Broadway and in film: additionally, she choreographed “Aida” at the Metropolitan Opera in 1963.
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Question 3. How does modern dance make dance more accessible to everyone (ie, Judson Church, Liz Lerman, White Oak Project)?
  • Modern dance is often an inclusive art form. Modern dance has challenged ballet’s stereotypical requirements for dancers: thin body type, youth, elite technique (ie, perfect turnout), and ballet’s dependence upon music/set/theatrical conventions. Like modern art in general, modern dance focuses on the value of the unique voice of the individual, and has created a structure where difference could be explored artistically.
judson church origins of postmodernism
JUDSON CHURCH: ORIGINS OF POSTMODERNISM
  • Concurrent with the explosion of civil rights movements, the early 1960’s birthed postmodernism in dance at the Judson Memorial Church. Experimentalists, such as, Robert Dunn, Lucinda Childs, Yvonne Rainer, Deborah Hay and Trisha Brown challenged the (now) conventional modern dance and sought freedom for the body and expression unencumbered by technique and conventions. The Judson Church movement refreshed modern dance and wiped the slate clean for fresh perspectives to follow.
liz lerman dancers of the third age
LIZ LERMAN: DANCERS OF THE THIRD AGE
  • In the 1980’s Washington, D.C. based choreographer, Liz Lerman, broke the age barrier with her company “Dancers of the Third Age.” Company members ranged in age from 18 to 82, and danced in disarmingly honest pieces based upon their unique life experiences. In a duet, Lerman explores the loving dream/memory of an 82 year-old woman’s sweetheart who has died in WW II. Themes of sexual longing, and love challenge stereotypes of elderly as “less than” in the physical and emotional realms; and liberates elderly and others to value the depth of emotions and longings, at any age.
white oak dance project barysknikov s brainchild
WHITE OAK DANCE PROJECT: BARYSKNIKOV’s BRAINCHILD
  • Mikhail Baryshnikov is considered to be, along with Rudolf Nureyev, a premier male ballet dancer of the 20th century. Baryshinikov chose to extend his dancing career through modern dance and the creation of the White Oak Dance Project. It is a repertory company that focuses on the creation of modern dance works by renown modern choreographers for mid-career to late-career dancers. Rather than mourn the “loss” of the elite ballet technique that made him so famous as a younger (and extraordinarily virtuosic) ballet dancer, the White Oak modern repertory allows Baryshnikov to explore his individual strengths and unique movement qualities, and continue to develop as a mature performing artist.
end you know the answers now
End: You know the answers now

THREE QUESTIONS: 1. How has the development of modern dance revolutionized dance performance?2. Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), Martha Graham (1894-1991), and Katherine Dunham (1909) each had her own vision of what dance should say. How were their views similar? How were there views different? What is each ultimately known for? 3. How does modern dance make dance more accessible to everyone (ie, Judson Church, Liz Lerman, White Oak Project)?