Modern Dance, By Miriam Giguere

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Contemporary dance was developed in the early 20th century as a movement against the rigid technique of ballet (Blackfish Arts Acadamy, 2006). Using the natural lines of the body to create new movements, the contemporary dance style usually has more fluidity than that of conventional dance styles (Freeman, 2013). In the book ‘Beginning Modern Dance’, Miriam Giguere says ‘The function of dance is communication. . . . By communication is not meant to tell a story or to project an idea, but to communicate experience by means of action . . . out of this came a different use of the body as an instrument, as the violin is an instrument. Body is the basic instrument, intuitive, instinctive. As a result an entirely contemporary set of technics was evolved.’ (Giguere, 2014).
A forerunner in the changing face of modern dance was choreographer and performer Martha Graham. Graham took up dance at the age of 22, during the time when women were fighting for the right to vote (Mapes, 2013). Being both shorter and older than most dancers, Graham had to use her body in a different way to the others at the Denishawn School of dance. This went against all of the principles that female dancers had originally been taught (Mapes, 2013). Over the duration of her career, Graham created one of the only sets of technique that is still practiced in today’s contemporary style (Mapes, 2013). Focusing on two main principles, contraction and release, Graham’s technique was strikingly different to that of
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