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Postmodern Dance

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by

Rachel Grieve

on 9 July 2011

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Transcript of Postmodern Dance

POSTMODERN DANCE What? Postmodern dance is a 20th century dance style.
It is reaction to the compositional and presentation constraints of modern dance. Postmodern dance hailed the use of everyday movement as valid performance art and advocated unique
methods of dance composition. Postmodern Dance claimed that any movement was dance and that any person was a dancer, whether they had training or not. The main thrust of the Postmodern movement was from the 1960s through to the 1970s. It was relatively short lived, however the choreography techniques and methods used are still being utilised in Contemporary choreography today. Who? There were several key pioneers of the Postmodern Dance movement. Three are of particular significance. Anna Halprin, based her choreography on real experiences, not classical works. Her group, the Dancers Workshop, usually avoided traditional technique and often performed outdoors instead of on a conventional stage. Another modern dance pioneer, Robert Dunn, believed that the process of art was more significant than the end product. Merce Cunningham experimented with the relationship between dance and music and created choreography that was unrelated to the music it was accompanied by. Several dancers who studied under these three choreographers revolutionized dance by creating their own movement. In 1962, these dancers formed a collective to perform dance experiments that rebelled against modern dance traditions. They practiced and performed at New York's Old Judson Church, and took the name Judson Dance Theater. Other key Postmodern Dance artists include:
Trisha Brown - first to defy gravity with her choreography by using harnesses to make dancers "fly" and walk down walls. She also favoured using alternative spaces for performances, including rooftops. She featured unusual and startling contexts for the human body and fluid, unpredictable movements.
Steve Paxton - famous for creating contact improvisation.
Yvonne Rainer - challenged the idea of dance needing to be theatrical and dramatic. Experimented with mundane performances.
Simone FOrti - experimented with animal movements and featured dancers who spoke aloud during performance.
Twyla Tharp - utilised gestural movement and improvisation. she linked her work back more closely to Contemporary performance that we are familiar with today. key ideas Dance can be anything; even everyday movement. Dance can be performed anywhere; not just a stage. Anyone can be a dancer; no formal training is required, just the desire to dance. All the body's movements could create a dance if placed in the right context. The creators were more 'thinkers' than 'dancers' focusing more on the intellectual process rather than the end result. The Judson dancers favored combining dance with other artistic mediums, including film, photography, painting, speaking and, of course, music. Everyday movements were key to the creation of movement. Pedestrian actions such as walking or running were the foundation of many creations. The Contact Improvisation method involved two or more people moving together in almost constant spontaneous contact. Everytime they touched, their bodies would react in some way. Chance was a key method used in the structuring of Postmodern dance. The idea to leave the form of a dance to chance was Created by Merce Cunningham. Music was often used incidentally, and performances did not have to be in time with the rhythm or beat. This clip shows dancers in the studio experimenting with everyday actions. What movements can you identify? Extended Studies: Contact Improvisation: Chance Dance: Merce Cunningham: Trisha Brown's 'Man Walking Down the Side of a Building' was originally choreographed in 1970. This performance was re-created in 2008 to commemorate her work. The dancers in this clip had not heard the music before performance and only just learnt the order of their movement sequences by rolling a die. Beach Birds for Camera Run time: 28mins This full length dancework choreographed by Cunningham showcases his unusual methods of working with music and chance.
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