Sunday, January 14, 2018

Modern Dance: Isadora Duncan from free form to hip hop

Isadora Duncan discovered a new dance form at the beginning of the twentieth century. The female body was now free from constraining corsets and the spirituality between earth and heaven was caught in the more natural movement of bare feet.

Isadora Duncan was trained in ballet but found herself constrained by the conventions which did not allow her as much expression as she desired. Rather than modifying the postures and steps, she disregarded them entirely preferring a free form dance which was more spontaneous.

Duncan became a critic of the aesthetics of classical ballet, in particular the constricting and painful pointe shoes. The once epitome of grace had become to the post-modern feminist the nemesis of freedom itself. The Modern Dance movement of the 1930s and 40s reflected the utilitarian times with performances which expressed the struggle against repression (gravity). Barefoot dancing came to represent control, economy, and immediacy.

Isadora Duncan inspired younger people to express themselves through a new form which became known as modern dance. As the twentieth century progressed modern choreographers demanded dancers coped not only with pointe work but also the many new choreographic moves, which had come subsequently to the acceptance of modern dance.

Pointe works spread into Jazz which even though the steps were from a different idiom, the shoes had to be extremely supple, responsive and simultaneously supportive and durable. Americans also recreated ballet opera by integrating dancing and drama with the musical. Dance steps from ballet, folk dance and modern dance were carefully choreographed to bring a new vitality to the musical theatre.

By the 1960s there was another revolt against much that had been tradition in Western dance performance with deliberately de-glamourised and sneakers replaced ballet pumps as performers danced in their everyday shoes. Even work boots made an appearance as popular tap become accepted into the avant-garde dance form. Eventually this free form became hip hop, danced to rap music.

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