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INNOVATION IN DANCE AND MUSIC

The modern dance revolution of the early twentieth century redefined dance in the West.  Most of what is now called modern dance is elaboration of forms and ideas that are founded in developments of the last century.  American Creative Dance stands in marked contrast to this trend and is producing work that has roots in the past, but is taking the art of dance to entirely new places.

In the early twentieth century many people were exploring the nature of dance and how to do it.  Ballet, the art dance that grew out of the court dancing of France and had been elaborated in Paris, Russia, Denmark and elsewhere in Europe, was not meeting the needs of artists in the industrial age.  The great innovators like Ruth Saint Denis and Ted Shawn looked to the dance traditions of other cultures such as India and Africa for inspiration and new ideas.

Many dancers were also looking at the human body and how it works for new ideas and new forms.  The distortion of the body required for ballet movement was rejected in favor of more natural movement

Perhaps the greatest of those innovators was Martha Graham.  She created a dance vocabulary and aesthetic that have influenced dance ever since.  In spite of the fact that she was not working in the ballet tradition, her work was largely responsible for the rejuvenation of that medium and led to changes and experimentation in ballet.

Graham's later work had different qualities than the strength and daring of her early Lamentations for instance.  There is a story that she moved into a studio next to a ballet company and was forever influenced by that.

 

For whatever reason, most of the dance now called “modern dance” as opposed to “classical dance” i.e. ballet, looks like ballet without shoes. Modern dance choreographers create dances for ballet companies; modern dancers have classical training.

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