Interpretive Dance

If you are into dance, one of the most enjoyable forms is interpretive dance. If you've ever wanted to express the feeling a tree has as it sways in the wind, the anger of a witch after living through the first world war, the ecstasy of a sylph or maenad dancing in the moonlight, or the story of King Kong from the beast's perspective, interpretive dance is for you. Interpretive dance has a long history, and if you explore it and express yourself through dance, you might end up on a hit dance show interpreting your way to stardom.

  1. Loie Fuller – At the dawn of modern stagecraft, when the first colored stage lights were under development, Loie Fuller performed interpretive dance with large swaths of white cloth, along with changing colored lights to express the life of a butterfly. Her performances were new and spectacular in 1901, and encouraged the trend of using fluid, expressive movements and fabric to interpret and express internal emotions.
  2. Isadora Duncan – by adopting Greek style costumes, bare feet, and an equally free-flowing lifestyle, Isadora Duncan took interpretive dance to a new level. At a time that women lived very restrictive lives and wore restrictive corsets and petticoats to signify their status, Isadora Duncan expressed the longing many women had for greater freedom. 
  3. Mary Wigman – Most famous for her "Witch Dance," choreographed in the 1920's in Germany, Mary Wigman developed a type of dance described as "tense, introspective and sombre." She often used masks and developed movements including stomping her feet, crawling on the ground, or contorting her torso to express the emotion of the character, instead of her face.
  4. Martha Graham – One of the American founders of modern dance, Martha Graham developed an expressive technique using contraction and release of the stomach muscles including spastic movements and even falls to the ground in her interpretive dance. 
  5. Doris Humphrey – Doris Humphrey developed a lyrical style of interpretive dance that used "fall and recovery" using sweeping movements. This style used many of the movements and poses from Isadora Duncan, but made them bigger and more athletic. Doris Humphrey also choreographed the same movements for male and female dancers, expressing a modern value of gender equality that can be interpreted from her dances.

These dancers are the inspiration and foundation of the great modern dancers of today. By opening the door to interpreting emotion, they allow for the kind of self-expression that has led to such great dancers as Louis Falco, Pina Bausch, Mark Morris, Bill T. Jones, Barak Marshall and even Heather Morris, "So You Think You Can Dance" performer and "Glee" star. Get involved and see what interpretive dance can do for you.

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