Revolutionary women — modern dance

  • Christy Adair
Part of the Women in Society Series List (ed CG) book series


Modern dance was pioneered and developed, mainly by women, in both Europe and America. Initially it was created in opposition to the aristocratic ideals of European ballet. Modern dance was not a monolithic style or school; it was revolutionary by definition; unlike ballet, artists created their own movement forms and techniques necessary for their choreography. Choreographers were concerned with discovering their own sources of movements often using personal experiences and emotions as starting points. Modern dance was born in and of the twentieth century and sought to represent the attitudes and dreams of the time. The influences of Freud and Jung were evident in Martha Graham’s work and often her characters became archetypes. In Every Soul is a Circus (1939) the Ideal Spectator must watch her own fickle behaviour as it is danced by the Empress of the Arena. The influence of Marx is evident in many of the ‘social protest’ dances which were made in the 1930s. Doris Humphrey’s The Trilogy — New Dance, Theatre Piece and With My Red Fires (1935–6) derided worldly competition and commented on the complexities of human relationships.


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© Christy Adair 1992

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  • Christy Adair

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