Contemporary dance history



This movement (contemporary dance) was born as a reaction against the strict positions and movements of classical ballet, and code away from any academic measure. Using the body as an instrument of emotional expression
Recognized worldwide after 1st World War and the bearer of an important function: communication.

According to most, this dance is defined more by what it isn't than by what it is. The dynamics of the body comes from the energy of the person, making the movement to reach each body segment. The space is used as a natural way of expression through every gesture and dynamics of the movement .

Very influenced by many styles. It was developed during the nineteenth century in America and Europe, all but one of them remains in modern dance today: freedom.

It was not only developed in a vertical position,it is so varied that you can use different positions and levels. The way this happens is always characterized by the simplicity and elegance of its technique.


Its history can be defined into three periods:
• 1900: A period marked by the free movements of the dancers, who sought to give the dance a more communicative sense, relying on older sources of inspiration to the West.
• 1930: In this second period a wave of modern dancers started in New York. To which the source of the movement was more internal than external, using natural actions such as breathing or walking.
• 1945: This period began at the end of World War II and still has validity. It merged techniques from the social dance, ballet and modern dance.


Pioneering figures of modern dance


Isadora Duncan (1877-1927)

Giving rise to a movement based on Greek sculpture. She chose to dance barefoot, pushing the classic ballet shoes. With a simple tunic dress. Locating the origin of motion in the solar plexus chakra and creating dances that alternated between resistance and surrender to the law of gravity.


Ruth Saint Denis (1879-1968)

With composites based on dances of India, Egypt and Asia. Starting his solo career, forming the company subsequently Denishawn

The dance of the future and is interested in the skills of body senseless. If we remember that in reality we are the microcosm, the universe in miniature, the Divine Dance of the future should be able to communicate with milder gestures mean something important in the universe. As far as we rise in the understanding of ourselves, the national and racial differences dissolve in the universal rhythm of Truth and Love will feel our unity with all people who move to this glorious pace.
Paragraph written by Ruth St. Denis in the unpublished book The Divine Dance (1933)

Mary Wigman (1886-1973)

Very Inspired by the world and eastern Asia. In their work, in group or solo, often resorted to masks.
The four basic aspects of the dance of M. Wigman are: expressionism, space, dance without music and the principle of tension-relaxation.
Martha Graham 1894 - 1991
With a technique based on relaxation and contraction of the breath (inhale and exhale). According to its design, dance, drama and spoken, should explore the spiritual and emotional essence of being human.

Doris Humphrey (1895-1958)

With a technique based on the decline and recovery of the natural dynamics of the human footprint and the influence of gravity. The humorous dances, of social and musical content were present in their repertoire.


José Limón (1908-1972)

Mexican origin, create a virile, ferocious style that simultaneously seeks a deep spirituality. His company is one of the few in America who has survived his death.

Merce Cunningham 1919

Locate the motion in the spine and cause a revolution in mixing the Graham technique with traditional ballet. Ex-student of Martha Graham created his company in 1953 which emphasizes a vertical position on elegant legs and arms.

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