OH YES THEY CAN!
A while ago (way back before Christmas even!) I asked you the question “What is dance?” and you gave some fascinating answers in response. Today, many of you take part in classes with me that could be described as “modern” dance styles, so I wanted to briefly introduce you to the birth of modern dance (if you’re really interested, why not Google the names below and tell me what you find).
Modern dance began roughly at the turn of the 20th century, pioneered by Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller, and Ruth St. Denis in the United States and Rudolf von Laban and Mary Wigman in Germany. Each were rebelling against the rigidity and formality of classical, academic ballet and against what they thought of as a banality in show dancing. Each modern choreographer looked to inspire audiences to a new awareness of inner or outer realities and break through the limitations of existing rules and definitions of the “perfect” aesthetics of dance.
I personally don’t think that ballet or show dancing are necessarily banal, superficial or artificial as I can see how they can both inspire and convey common and valuable ideas (and can be great fun too!) but I suppose that these pioneering choreographers (and dancers) felt the need to rebel against what they saw as an oppressive or unrepresentative “Status Quo”.
When I see many of you in class or performance I think there is some (or even a lot) of that rebellion against todays Status Quo, the one that says “only young people can dance” or “only young, “flashy” dancers are worth watching”. It’s not true, so keep up the good work! And if you need some encouragement, you’re in good company… Pina Baush agrees with you, older people are definitely worth watching!
If you’ve got a moment I’d love to know what modern dance you’ve experienced. Did it challenge what you think it means to express your ideas through dance? How? Let me know below…