Dance is a popular way to express one's feelings and emotions. One genre of dance is modern dance, which is serious theatrical dance forms that are distinct from both ballet and the show dancing of the musical comedy or variety stage.
Theatrical dance that developed in the U.S. and Europe in the 20th century as a reaction to traditional ballet. Precursors included Loie Fuller and Isadora Duncan. Formal teaching of modern dance began with the establishment of the Denishawn schools by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn in 1915. Many of their students, principally Doris Humphrey and Martha Graham, further contributed to modern dance's definition as a technique based on principles of fall and recovery (Humphrey) and of contraction and release (Graham). Movement often stressed the expression of emotional intensity and contemporary subjects rather than focusing on the formal, classical, and often narrative aspects of ballet. Later developments included a revolt in the 1950s against Graham's expressionism, led by Merce Cunningham, whose choreography included ballet technique and the element of chance.
The Second Generation in America
At the end of the 1920s those who rebelled against the art nouveau exoticism and commercialism of Denishawn devised their own choreography and launched their own companies. Their dances were based on new techniques developed as vehicles for the expression of human passions and universal social themes. Martha Graham found the breath pulse the primary source of dance; exaggerating the contractions and expansions of the torso and flexing of the spine caused by breathing, she devised a basis for movement that for her represented the human being's inner conflicts.
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.
The Combining 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.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.
In Rochester New York Garth Fagan Dance also operates a modern dance school offering classes for both children and adults. Garth Fagan Dance is a locally-based internationally renowned dance company founded by Garth Fagan. The company travels all over the country and world and also performs locally a few times a year.