Evolution of Modern Dance

Essay by NdncnLcatR07High School, 10th gradeA+, May 2005

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Emerging in 1890 when dancers and choreographers revolted from the stiff and structured Ballet technique, modern dance has evolved a lot over the years. Soon after, in 1905, Isadora Duncan established the first school of modern dance in Berlin, Germany. Ruth St. Denis, born Ruth Dennis, offered a performance of Radha, her first dance work, in 1906. She married her dance partner, Ted Shawn, eight years later. Together they founded the Denishawn Dance Company. Two famous names in modern dance, Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey, studied there.

Martha Graham made her dance debut in 1926 New York. Her performance featured 18 barefoot dancers, normal in the modern dance world. Her dance "Appalachian Spring" premiered in 1944. Doris Humphrey spent 10 years with Denishawn and later choreographed the "Hoop Dance" for them in 1920. In 1932, she and her partner, Charles Weidman, choreographed the first modern dance number for a Broadway show.

Humphrey was among the founding members of the dance department at Julliard in 1951.

The next year, Merce Cunningham established his own modern dance company. Two years later, Alvin Ailey created the American Dance Theatre. He had studied dance with Lester Horton, who taught in Los Angeles. Ailey received many awards throughout his dance career.

Modern dance has truly changed since 1890. It started as a simple revolt against Ballet and became one of the most famous forms of dance in the theater world.