Today, dance is so much more advanced and independent than it was a century ago. There are thousands of dance competitions, schools, teachers, and students changing the dance culture even more. Currently, the biggest dance competition for young people is the “JUMP!!” competition. Here, they tour the world with many different dance teachers who are part of various categories such as Ballroom, Ballet, Modern, and Jazz. Their job is to revolutionize the hobby of dance, but my job is to tell you how the technique in dance has changed over a century, and will continue to change.
Ballet in the 1900’s was a very proper, up-right style of dance. Although dance has been around since the time of the Neanderthals, Ballet was the first established genre that was spread throughout the world. Ballet was most popular in the 1900’s throughout Europe and America. If you were a ballerina or danseur, you would be of a good family, probably wealthy, and you were generally Caucasian. However, today you can come from any kind of family, class, or race. As the years went by, dancers became tired of the strict rules of Ballet. Dancers such as Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Lester Horton, Alvin Ailey, and Isadora Duncan revolted against classical ballet, just as Martin Luther went against the Catholic Church. These revolutionists brought new styles to America, such as Asian styles and African styles. These dancers also modernized Ballet in a way that will never be forgotten. (Percival)
As mentioned earlier there was a revolt against classical Ballet. The major influence of this change was Martha Graham. Martha Graham grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. When she was growing up she had no dance experience so she decided to take a class from another dance legend named Ruth St. Denis. When they danced, they danced barefoot. Ruth taught her an oriental technique of dance. She liked dance so much that she decided to continue with it. Soon enough she was a choreographer who was teaching other people her style that complemented oriental technique and Ballet. Her style of dance often included tension between a pair of dancers, and a slow stretching in harmony of breath throughout the choreography. (Martha Graham)
Another person who changed dance forever was Alvin Ailey Jr. He was born in southeast Texas and grew up in poverty. When he was growing up in the nineteen thirties, African Americans didn’t have very much freedom. While attending different schools he noticed that he didn’t fit in with the normal kids. When he was seventeen he got a job at a theater and started taking classes. Eventually he slipped into Saturday dance classes and started learning from Lester Horton. Horton’s style was called “Horton Technique.” This type if dance included African American dances and Jazz styles. As Alvin started to learn under Horton’s wing he picked up the genre and started teaching it, himself as a choreographer. Soon enough he had his own dance company and was traveling around the United States on tour. After touring and choreographing a number of different dances he opened a school, “Alvin Ailey African School of Dance.” (Dunning)
The popularity of Contemporary dance which is a newer, more modernized dance, grew immensely in its first fifty years. It grew even more in its next fifty years. In the 1900’s and 1950’s Contemporary dance was just beginning to be realized in the world of dance. Ballet was starting to be eclipsed, and other genres were joining together with Contemporary to begin a new age of dance, which is exactly what happened in the 1950’s to the 2000’s. Ballet was begging to be forgotten, and Contemporary dance was starting to become one of the most popular dances to take as a profession. Now, in the 2000’s, Contemporary dance itself has branched off into different genres. (Percival)
One style that has taken a leap into popularity is Jazz. It started as classic Jazz, which was usually a slow, sexy dance. A major dance historian who changed Jazz in theater and in dance dramatically was Bob Fosse. Bob created his own style name after himself; “Fosse Style.” He was at his highest point in his career in the seventies, and thirty years later Classic Jazz morphed into Contemporary Jazz. This change included going from dancing completely on one’s feet, to dancing on the ground. Today many Contemporary Jazz routines are on the based on rolling around on the ground in a mystical way. Much like Martha Graham did in Contemporary Ballet, Jazz dancers usually dance barefoot in their choreography.
The change of Ballet has been the most important event in dance history because it started as classical Ballet, and then went to Contemporary Ballet, now it is Contemporary Modern. Contemporary Modern has taken some technique from contemporary ballet, such as dancing barefoot and using tension between two partners. There are also differences between the two, like Modern dances’ tribal technique that Martha Graham influenced. To this day Contemporary Modern has become one of the most popular dances along side of Contemporary Jazz. While Jazz can move in harmony with the ground; Modern moves in harmony with the air. (Percival)
Since Contemporary Jazz and Modern have been so popular, dancers have created a dance that allows them not only to move with the beat of the music, but also with the words of the music. Because the words of the song are called lyrics we call this type of dance Lyrical. Lyrical dance uses a mix of techniques from Ballet, Modern, and Jazz, and because of this Lyrical dance is considered a melting pot of Modern and Jazz dance. Lyrical isn’t as tribal as modern, but still uses tension between two dancers, just as it shares the characteristic of using the ground as Jazz does. While dancing Lyrical you have to be able to be in harmony with the ground, and music.
The appearances of dance don’t only occur in competitions and classes, but they also show up in Theater and on Television shows. In Theater, dance is used in musicals that could range from a proper opera to a fun jazzy play. Two examples of both genres of musicals are “The Phantom of The Opera,” and “The Producers.” The Phantom of the Opera has a proper sense of dance in it that includes waltz; a slow, on beat dance. On the other hand The Producers has jazz that is very expressive. Dance is also used in the modern day television business. TV shows like “So You Think You Can Dance,” and “Dancing with the Stars,” are completely different from each other because “Dancing with the Stars” is based on an elder, more proper style of dance, whereas “So You Think You Can Dance” is a show suited for a younger audience that attach to contemporary dance, more than ballroom.
There is surely a possibility for further change in other styles. The change in past technique, in such a short period of time, serves as an example. Some styles that have this possibility to change are Latin and East Coast Swing. Latin dance has already begun to change in several ways, like being more free in the steps and not so strict, and breaking away from the category of ballroom. Latin has no specific placement of the arms during a dance. Some Latin dances include the Cha-Cha, Rumba, Samba, and the Salsa. East Coast Swing has also become popular because it too, as begun to go against Ballroom restrictions. Just as technique has changed over a century, it should continue to do the same in the next century.