Modern Dancing

Written by Jill Morrison
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Modern dancing is a dance form that is distinct from show dancing and ballet dancing. It was created at the turn of the 20th century in the United States and in Germany. This dance form emulates modern music and art because it is experimental in nature. Modern dance rebelled against the superficiality of show dancing and the formalism of classical ballet technique.

The Development of Modern Dancing

Modern dancing is an expressive and unique form of dance. It was developed to rebel against the popular and classical styles of dance so that dance would not be so rigid. Modern dance choreographers aimed to inspire audiences to be aware of inner and outer realities through original choreography. Some of the pioneers of this dance form include Isadora Duncan, Rudolf Von Laban, Loie Fuller, Mary Wigman, and Ruth St. Denis.

As modern dancing developed, it became more acceptable and even merged with other dance styles. Sometimes, modern dancers were even asked to create dances for ballet companies and perform with them as well. Dance companies that combined ballet and modern styles emerged, with well-known dancer-choreographers such as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Mark Morris.

In 1942, Agnes De Mille developed a modern dance sequence for the musical, Oklahoma. Since then, modern dance in addition to jazz and ballet dance has become an integral part of creating Broadway musicals. It can be seen distinctly in musicals such as My Fair Lady and Kiss Me, Kate, as well as many others. Modern dance continues to be performed in musicals and on the stage by professional modern dance companies.


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