dance discussion

Modern Dance: 2nd Generation and Post Modern

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Modern Dance: 2nd Generation

Jose Limon

Born in Mexico

Former dancer with Humphrey-Weidman Company

The Moors Pavane based on Shakespeare’s Othello

The Traitor Choreographed in 1954 as a response to McCarthy hearings and the climate of betrayal that haunted the arts and entertainment fields during this period. 

Modern Dance: 2nd Generation

Paul Taylor

Dance with Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham before starting his own company 1956

Last living choreographer of his generation.

Choreographed over 133 dances

Has set up an archive to preserve his work

Esplanade (music by Johann Sebastian Bach )

Aureole (music by George Frideric Handel)

Modern Dance: 2nd Generation

Watch: Paul Taylor’s Esplanade – Part 1:


And Part 5:

Modern Dance: 2nd Generation

Katherine Dunham

Created dances fusing modern dance and Afro-Caribbean

Trained as an anthropologist

Created a school and company in both NYC and later in East St. Louis

Often revered to as “Matriarch and Queen Mother of Black Dance“

Watch: Katherine Dunham (03:28)

Modern Dance: 2nd Generation

Alvin Ailey

Created the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

The company and school are both in NYC

Company founded in 1958

The company has earned a reputation as one of the most acclaimed international ambassadors of American culture, promoting the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance.

Modern Dance: 2nd Generation

Watch Revelations

Post Modern Dance

Use of improvisation – Development of Contact Improvisation

Happenings – break down of dependence on dance technique in choreography

Increased level of difficulty – high endurance and strength

Different environments – streets, rooftops, museums, etc.

Accompaniment – music collage, text, street noises, silence

Subject matter – exploration of individual history and serious social issues

Post Modern Dance

Yvonne Rainer’s “No Manifesto” from 1965, which envisions a form of dance parred down to its essential, visceral elements.

No to spectacle.
No to virtuosity.
No to transformations and magic and make-believe.
No to the glamour and transcendency of the star image.
No to the heroic.
No to the anti-heroic.
No to trash imagery.
No to involvement
of performer or spectator.
No to style.
No to camp.
No to seduction of spectator by the wiles of the performer.
No to eccentricity.
No to moving or being moved.

Post Modern Dance

Merce Cunningham

Former dancer with Martha Graham

Long collaboration with composer/partner John Cage

Abstract work no narrative

Used “chance dance” methods

Created any dances and often did “events”

Watch: Rainforest excerpt by Merce Cunningham

Rainforest, Part 1 (10:04)

Post Modern Dance

Alwin Nikolais

Created and used lighting, props and costumes in a highly theatrical way.

Created dances about motion, not emotion

Murray Louis

Former soloist with Nikolais company before creating his own choreography

Nikolais/Louis Technique was created by both of them

Post Modern Dance

Judson Church – 1960’s

Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown, Deborah Hay and Lucinda Childs

Worked together to explore the boundaries of dance movement and choreography

Rejection of the existing art and a comment on the social/political times

Performances happen anywhere, using improvisation, games, etc.

Watch excerpt on Contact Improvisation:

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