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Introduction Content A power of dance group production in collaboration with RMG

Introduction: ............................................................................................ 03 The early years and the roots: ................................................................. 04 - 05 The evolution: .......................................................................................... 06 - 07 The combination of forms: ...................................................................... 08 - 09 Conclusion: ............................................................................................. 10 Important contacts: ................................................................................. 11

Photography: Peter Senders and Associe de Presse Extra source from online foto stocks Design and Art Direction: Romeo Umulisa

The definition A term widely used in America and Britain to denote theatrical dance which is not based on the academic school of classical ballet. Through early 20th-century practitioners such as Isadora Duncan, Ruth St Denis, Martha Graham, and Doris Humphrey, modern dance developed in opposition to classical ballet, rejecting the latter’s structural formality and sometimes thematic frivolity. Modern dance pioneers eschewed the rigid hierarchy of ballet in favour of a freer movement style—favouring bare feet over pointe shoes, for example. People like Graham and Humphrey developed their own methods of teaching the new technique required for their choreography. Early subject-matter was often political or psychological (Graham in particular was influenced by Jungian psychology in her dances). In the 1950s Cunningham took the form one step further by stripping dance of its literary and narrative context altogether, as well as isolating it from its musical accompaniment. By the end of the 20th century, the barriers between ballet and modern dance were less pronounced as dancers and choreographers worked increasingly in both styles.

The Beginnings of Modern Dance

This mini guide book was made possible by the help of the Nord and South free publication, Filio de fala Art with the participation of Miriam and Williams foundation.


Developed in the 20th cent., primarily in the United States and Germany, modern dance resembles modern art and music in being experimental and iconoclastic. Modern dance began at the turn of the century; its pioneers were Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller, and Ruth St. Denis in the United States, Rudolf von Laban and Mary Wigman in Germany. Each rebelled against the rigid formalism, artifice, and superficiality of classical academic ballet and against the banality of show dancing. Each sought to inspire audiences to a new awareness of inner or outer realities, a goal shared by all subsequent modern dancers.


The early years and the roots In the United States

German Contribution

Isadora Duncan shocked or delighted audiences by baring her body and soul in what she called “free dance.� Wearing only a simple tunic like the Greek vase figures that inspired many of her dances, she weaved and whirled in flowing natural movements that emanated, she said, from the solar plexus. She aimed to idealize abstractly the emotions induced by the music that was her motivating force, daringly chosen from the works of serious composers including Beethoven, Wagner, and Gluck. Although Duncan established schools and had many imitators, her improvisational technique was too personalized to be carried on by direct successors.

Although often considered an American phenomenon, the evolution of modern dance can also be traced to central Europe and Germany, where the most influential was probably Rudolf von Laban. Although there is almost no documentation to describe his choreography, he founded (1910) a school in Munich at which Mary Wigman was one of his students. Exiled in the 1930s, he immigrated to England, where he established (1946) the Art of Movement Studio in Manchester and worked until his death on his system of notation. After studying with Laban, Wigman performed in Germany and opened her own school in Dresden (1920). She became the most influential German exponent of expressive movement and toured extensively. Although her school was closed by the Nazis, she reopened it in Berlin in 1948. Other important and more recent German dancer-choreographers include Kurt Joos and his student Pina Bausch.

The work of the two other American pioneers was far less abstract although no less free. Loie Fuller used dance to imitate and illustrate natural phenomena: the flame, the flower, the butterfly. Experimenting with stage lighting and costume, she created illusionistic effects that remained unique in the history of dance theater until the works of Alwin Nikolais in the 1960s. The pictorial effects achieved by Ruth St. Denis had a different source: the ritualistic dance of Asian religion. She relied on elaborate costumes and sinuous improvised movements to suggest the dances of India and Egypt and to evoke mystical feelings. With Ted Shawn, who became her partner and husband in 1914 and who advocated and embodied the vigor of the virile male on the dance stage, St. Denis enlarged her repertoire to include dances of Native Americans and other ethnic groups. In 1915 St. Denis and Shawn formed the Denishawn company, which increased the popularity of modern dance throughout the United States and abroad and nurtured the leaders of the second generation of modern dance: Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman.



The evolution

The later dances By the end of World War II, young choreographers had begun breaking the rules of the modern dance establishment—creating dances that had no theme, expressed no emotion, dispensed with the dance vocabulary of fall and recovery, contraction and release. Sybil Shearer’s random fantasies, Katherine Litz’s surrealistic vignettes, and Erick Hawkins’s impressionistic soft rhythms changed the emphasis of choreography. They had no desire to uplift or inform.

ground for even more radical departures into what later became known as postmodern dance. Twyla Tharp did away with any sound accompaniment that might distract the viewer’s attention from the dance itself. She also took dance outside the theater, staging it in such spaces as the staircase of the Metropolitan Museum of New York City and New York’s Central Park. Yvonne Rainer pioneered in the use of improvisations based on ordinary, nondance movements ranging from acrobatics, to military marching, to sports and games. Steve Paxton incorporated even more mundane actions into his dances (e.g., dressing and undressing) and went so far as to perform a duet with a chicken. Paxton, like other dancers and pop artists of the 1960s and 70s, was largely concerned with breaking down the barriers between dancers and audience, between art and life.

Foremost of this third generation of modern dancers is Merce Cunningham, whose company bred avant-garde choreographers for more than 25 years. Cunningham freed dance from spatial restraints, eliminating strong central focus from choreographic patterns and devising dances that can be viewed from any angle. He also released dance from traditional musical constraints by using electronic music and other compositions of his musical director, John Cage. In addition, he liberated his own choreography from structural limitations by using techniques of chance, such as throws of the dice, to determine the order in which sections of a work should occur. In 1957 Paul Taylor, a Cunningham and Graham veteran, presented an evening of minimal dance, which consisted of Taylor standing on the stage alone in street clothes and making only tiny changes in posture to the accompaniment of the recorded voice of a telephone operator announcing the time at 10-second intervals; outraged dance critics deliberately ignored the performance. His company ultimately became one of the most important of the post–World War II troupes. Another of the third generation, choreographer Alvin Ailey, who was influenced primarily by Lester Horton, combined elements of modern, jazz, and African dance in his work. The company he established 1958 has been internationally acclaimed and has brought recognition to many African-American and Asian dancers. The social and artistic ferment of the 1960s provided fertile



The combination of forms By the late 20th cent., distinctions among modern dance, ballet, and show dancing were not as rigid as they once had been. Ballet technique and choreography have remained more formal than those of modern dance, but their themes and stage effects are often similar. Important modern dancers have been invited to perform with and create dances for ballet companies, and in 1990, Mikhail Baryshnikov joined with dancer-choreographer Mark Morris to form a new eclectic dance company. In addition, Paul Taylor performed with the New York City Ballet in a work created for him by George Balanchine, Taylor himself created dances for Rudolf Nureyev, and Tharp’s dancers joined the Joffrey Ballet to perform her Deuce Coupe and As Time Goes By. Since Agnes de Mille first introduced a dance sequence as an integral part of the plot development of Oklahoma! in 1942, dance has become more than just light entertainment during interludes in the action of Broadway musicals. Anna Sokolow, of the Graham company, brought her modern dance technique to the Broadway stage, as did Hanya Holm, choreographer of Kiss Me, Kate (1948) and My Fair Lady (1956). The dance style that has evolved in musicals usually combines elements of modern dance, modern ballet, and the jazz dance that is based on Afro-Caribbean dances.



Important contacts Schools and Training centers Contemporary Dance School Hamburg Ltd. Bahrenfelder Str. 201 a / Innenhof 22765 Hamburg Telefon: +49 40 4192 4560 Fax: +49 40 2805 3310 The Power of Dance Group Millias St Dennis 12334 Paris France Fax: 33-33447764 Telefon: 33 3233334489

Conclusion This dance form is an example of a partnered/non-partnered dance. In classes a choreographed sequence is generally taught, but in practice it is an improvised dance. (Editor) Contemporary dance is the name for a modern concert dance genre. It is not a specific dance technique but a collection of methods developed from modern and post-modern dance and can take on many forms including dance fusion, emergent dance and revisionism. And so we encourage everyone to come a join any group, anywhere in the world, we are and we will aleays be there for you!

The Power of Dance Group Grellstr 233 10665 Berlin Germany Fax: 49-389047764 Telefon: +49 389984489 Royal Academy of Dance Unsere Postanschrift: Royal Academy of Dance gGmbH Waldenserstr. 2-4 10551 Berlin Deutschland nhaber: Anja Kursawe/Marleen Wernitzsch Chorinerstr. 31 10435 Berlin tel: 0049 (0)30 / 44042633 & 0049 (0)30 / 61746709 fax: 0049 (0)30 / 9121338 Kontoverbindung: Kursawe/Wernitzsch Commerzbank Berlin 12040000 Kontonr. 621693100



This mini guide book was made possible by the help of the Nord and South free publication, Filio de fala Art with the participation of Miriam and Williams foundation. art direction contribution from: Romeo Umulisa text and conception: Power of dance Group.

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