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What is Modern Dance?

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By Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance (Performing Arts)

Modern dance emerged as a form of artistic expression and freedom from dancers who were bound by the strict and conforming rules of ballet or dancers that did not have the financial means to attend formal dance training in ballet schools.

Modern dance has a significant and diverse cultural influence that includes Native American, African, and Pacifica to name a few. 

It is a vastly expressive form of dance that often allows the dancer to wear attire that frees the body or highlights various movements that include the use of the arms and body to incorporate dramatic drop and roll movement and non-conforming leaps and gestures. 

The various movements and poses will always tell an emotional and moving story and often one the dancer is familiar with. The dancer will commit the full self into the movement and meaning which provides the observing audience to feel connected spiritually to the meaning of the dance. Therefore, choosing music for this type of dance is important. 

Because modern dance is typically a unique variation of dance, the dancer is free to improvise or invent various movements and to create individual choreography. 

In most dance studios, this type of dance is geared to the more advanced dancer who has the maturity to explore dance and movement in much greater depths, younger students are often introduced to contemporary dance its often-compared counterpart because the two styles are differentiated really by small artistic nuances. 

An example of modern dance at it’s roots would be by the Martha Graham Dance company, but as Graham technique has become a style in and of it’s own, one needs to be reminded this is only one example of modern dance and the style can be seen in many other forms.  

This page is just one of hundreds of definitions of the many styles and genres of dance. This library is being continually added to by the writers and contributors of Dance Parent 101!