Contemporary Dance By Nicola Azar
What is Contemporary Dance • Contemporary dance is a genre of dance that employs philosophy to guide unchoreographed movement. It uses dance techniques found in ballet, modern dance and postmodern dance. • It focuses on alignment, opposing movement, emotions and systematic breathing. It is an extremely fluid and very unclear or ill-defined style of dance. It is not associated with specific dance techniques.
In this dance style, people attempt to explore the natural energy and emotions of their bodies to produce dances that are often very personal. • Contemporary dance originated in the USA and in Europe in the early 20th Century as a reaction against the rigid techniques of ballet. • It can be danced to almost any style of music • Isadora Duncan is often quoted as being the mother of contemporary dance
Some of the first people to explore contemporary dance were: • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZQ42YbR8oc
Jose Limon • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0KBNzcqiSk
Jose Limon • Jose Limon was born on January 12th, 1908. In 1928 Limon was inspired by a performance by Harold Kreutzberg and Yvonne Gerogi. • Limón enrolled in the Humphrey-Weidman school and in 1930 (just a year later), performed on Broadway, where Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman had choreographed ‘Lysistrata’. Also that year, Limón created his first dance; a duet with Letitia Ide titled ‘Etude in D Minor’.
In October 3, 1942 he married Pauline Lawrence. In 1943, Limón and Humphrey created dances on folk themes at the Studio Theatre before Limón was drafted into the Army in April. A year later he was working with composers Frank Loesser and Alex North and choreographed several works for the U.S. Army Special Services. He choreographed Concerto Grosso in 1945 and was discharged from the Army that December.
He established his own company in 1947, with Humphrey as artistic director. His choreography conveyed modern-dance expression within a well-defined structure, an example was given in his works such as The Moor's Pavane (1949) and Missa Brevis (1958). The company toured worldwide during Limón's life. • He was a crucial figure in the development of modern dance: his powerful dancing shifted perceptions of the male dancer,
He choreographed at least one new piece each year. Each summer he attended the American Dance Festival, was a key faculty member in The Juilliard School's Dance Division beginning in 1953, and the director of Lincoln Centre's American Dance Theatre from 1964-65. • Limón received two Dance Magazine Awards, the Capezio Award and honorary doctorates from four universities in recognition of his achievements. • He created the Limón technique, which emphasizes the natural rhythms of fall and recovery and the interplay between weight and weightlessness to provide dancers with an organic approach to movement that easily adapts to a range of choreographic styles.
The Moor’s pavane • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM7MwxGIrew
Ruth St. Denis • Ruth St. Denis was born January 20, 1879 on a farm in rural New Jersey. • She was encouraged to study dance from an early age. Her early training included Delsarte technique, ballet lessons with the Italian ballerina Maria Bonfante, and popular social dance forms. • In 1892, Ruth began her professional career in New York City. She was a ‘skirt-dancer’ (a female dancer whose legs were visible under her short skirt) and was required to perform roughly 11 times a day.
In 1898, the young dancer was noticed by David Belasco, a well-known and highly successful Broadway producer and director. He hired her to perform with his large company as a featured dancer. He was responsible for giving her the stage name “St. Denis.” She toured with Belasco’s company around the United States and in Europe, and was exposed to the work of several important European artists, including the Japanese dancer Sado Yacco and the great French actress, Sarah Bernhardt. • St. Denis’ artistic imagination was ignited by these artists. • She became enthralled by the dance and drama of Eastern cultures, especially Japan, India, and Egypt.
After 1900, St. Denis began formulating her own theory of dance/drama based on the techniques of her early training, her readings into philosophy, scientology, and the history of ancient cultures, and the work of artists like Yacco and Bernhardt. • St. Denis’ career as a solo artist began in 1905 with Radha (a story of a mortal maid who was loved by the God Krishna), and continued to blossom the following year when St. Denis and her mother went to Europe and travelled the continent performing her “dance translations,” which by now included The Cobra, Incense, The Nautch, and The Yogi. She was declared a sensation, and was particularly successful in Vienna, Austria, and in Germany,
In 1914 St. Denis married Ted Shawn, one of her dance partners, and the next year they founded the Denishawn dance school and company in Los Angeles. Among St. Denis’ students were future dance pioneers Martha Graham, Doris Humphreys, and Charles Weidman. • In 1931, St. Denis founded the Society of Spiritual Arts. She devoted much of the rest of her life to promoting the use of dance in religion.
Ruth St. Denis founded Adelphi University's dance program in 1938 which was one of the first dance departments in an American university. It has since become a cornerstone of Adelphi's Department of Performing Arts. • Her early works are indicative of her interests in exotic mysticism and spirituality
St. Denis was often called the “First Lady of American Dance” and the “Queen of American Dance.” She remained active into the 1960s, when many of her better-known solos were recorded on film. • On July 21 1968 St. Denis passed away. • Denis was inducted into the National Museum of Dance C.V. Whitney Hall of Fame in 1987.
East Indian Nautch Dance • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8XvHX1FKsY