Lecture: Modern Dance (Listen and Read)

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Lecture: Modern Dance
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So! Last week, we talked about Ballet.
As you know, ballet, classical ballet, is based on formalized movements that are very strictly measured.
Specific positioning of the arms, feet head and body are among them.
Today we'll be moving on into theatrical dance, better known as modern dance.
It started evolving into being in the late nineteenth century.
In general, audiences were excited to see this new style, and approved of it.
However, the dance was also seen as fairly radical for its time.
Yes? Ron?
How would it be radical?
Well, think about this.
If you compare it to classical music versus modern music.
The newer art forms are less standardized,
more experimental and full of improvisation.
Just like back when Jazz started becoming popular,
many community leaders spoke out against the music style,
saying that children would be led to a life of sin through listening to it.
Oddly enough, those same phrases were repeated when Rock and Roll became a big hit among the youth.
Okay! So basically this stereotype happened to modern dance as well.
Modern dancers tried to show emotions and movement within the music itself,
demonstrating with their bodies and trying to convey those emotions to the viewers.
In comparison, classical ballet requires those emotions to be told through strictly formalized movements.
So, how was modern dance created?
Well, Isadora Duncan was the innovator of modern dance.
She was born in 1878, and briefly studied ballet as a child.
She found it too restrictive, not creative enough.
She quickly grew tired of the rigorous training into forms, and developed her own style called free dance.
By age fourteen, she had started a class to teach young children her style,
organizing recitals with them.
Now, her early technique was based on the natural forms of children as they run, skip and gesture when they tell stories.
It also incorporated the movements of nature,
like trees swaying in the wind or stones being tumbled as a wave crashes upon them.
Her gestures were expressive and emotional.
While ballerinas had to wear their hair up in a tight bun,
not to distract from their forms,
Duncan wore hers loose and long.
Instead of fluffy short skirts and painful toe shoes,
she'd wear flowing tunics and would dance gracefully barefoot…
and this was something audiences had never seen before,
and they loved it.
Now, a little interesting story about her.
When she was younger but still in her career,
Duncan attended a ballet concert, led by the famous ballerina, Ana Pavlova.
Interested in knowing a dancer so different than herself,
Pavlova invited Duncan to a practice as an observer.
Duncan accepted, and was horrified at what she saw.
The ballerinas practiced on tiptoes for hours, and their feet were deeply bruised by toe shoes.
The movements they practiced, she said, seemed painful and possibly harmful.
After the practice, Duncan publicly announced she thought ballet was a form of acrobatics,
a “complicated and excruciating mechanism”.
Now, we must know that back then, Russian ballerinas were very well-loved by their people,
and to see a woman dancing so unlike them really didn't play to their tastes at all.
Not to mention, her announcement must have rubbed them the wrong way.
They criticized her harshly,
saying her dance was closer to childish pantomiming than actual dance.
Still, it didn't bother her very much,
and she continued to dance for the majority of her adult life.
Still, their harsh critique and her denouncing words
left a deep chasm and rivalry between ballerinas and modern dancers for many years.
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