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Dancing: Choreographer Doris Humphrey Essay

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Updated: Mar 23rd, 2021

Essay on Dancing

Doris Humphrey was a famous American choreographer and the founder of modern techniques in the theory and practice of the dance movement. As soon as she joined the Denishawn dance school in Los Angeles, the dancer became a recognized soloist, and in three years she started experimenting with dancing techniques and modern choreography. Her first major work was presented in 1925. Guided by her mentor Ruth Denis, Humphrey presented the first modern dance that was not accompanied by music. Hence, her approach to dancing differed greatly from the conventional views on the connection between dance and music. In particular, the choreographer was more concerned with separate elements of music that complement dance with movement, rhythm, nature, and balance.

The talented dancer possessed a strong sense of rhythm, which allowed her to perceive dancing through the use of gravity and unveiling the sense of security. Hence, the ambivalence between balance and unbalance was highlighted, which is possible through using nonmusical rhythms, such as human breath, waves, or pulse rhythms. Thus, the dance could exist beyond music and is based on the movement itself, which delivers its message and meaning. Ruth Denis and Ted Shown adhered to the concept of music visualization as the main underpinning of modern dance. This concept is associated with movement equivalents, including dynamics, structural elements of music, along with its rhythmic base.

In 1936, the dancer completed the trilogy, which is known as New Dance. This masterpiece focused on human nature through the symphonic components of dance. The second section of a trilogy called With My Red Fires depicted romantic love, the theme that had been considered inappropriate and challengeable to perform in modern dance. By introducing new techniques, Humphrey managed to recover modern dance and create new elements and forms beyond the boundaries of individual emotion. Using stylized gesture and abstraction was the priority for the dancer while performing the work.

In contrast to her mentor Ruth Denis, the dancer was not influenced by religious beliefs because she advocated humanism. Most of her works were dedicated to unveiling man’s nobility to assert her commitment to humankind. Her “fall and recovery” approach, breath rhythm, and natural movement became the foundation for her technique. For instance, in her work called Two Ecstatic Themes, Humphrey focuses on the physical drama – the struggle between gravity and weightlessness. Hence, Humphrey firmly believed that dancing allowed her to reveals human harmony with nature, as well as an individual’s aspiration to perfectibility.

Her contribution to modern dancing is enormous because she breathes techniques that are still heavily practiced in modern dancing school to train the physical aptness of dancers. Besides, her attitude to music and its role in dancing is controversial because dancing was connected more with the possibility of self-expression through listening to the sounds of the human organism, including heartbeat and breathe.


Art Nouveau style is associated with a new philosophy and ideology of art. Its major premises relate to freedom and harmony with the natural environment. In the context of dancing, dancing relates to the adherence to natural structures and forms, which made dancing more individualistic. Loie Fuller, a modern dancer, is regarded as the embodiment of this movement. Her contributions to dancing are also significant because she manages to combine natural movement with dancing techniques.

Martha Graham, an American choreographer, and modern dancer created Clytemnestra in 1958. The ballet is considered a revolution due to the rapid shifts from traditional forms and accepted rules in choreography. Freedom of dance and movement is regarded as the main paradigms of the ballet.

In 1925, the Denishawn Dance Company has managed to make a successful tour to Orient. The success of the tour is predetermined by the spread of Indian dancing culture, as well as an enthusiastic approach to representing Orient dancing. Indian ballet was also an innovation in modern dance. Being a pioneer in the field, therefore, has become the key to the successful development of modern dancing.

Like Ruth Denis and Ted Chawn, Isadora Duncan was also the support of unique modern dance techniques that premised on adherence to natural movements, as well as on the direct connection between freedom and emotions. Although she opened several schools, the campaign failed because she disliked organizing commercial aspects of public dancing. Her genuine purpose in dancing was confined to education and exploration of the beauty of the dance. The second factor was connected with her exile from

The main mission of Jacob’s Pillow lied in supporting dance presentation, preservation, and creation, as well as an engaging public appreciation of modern dance. Bennington College and Connecticut College have introduced an unconventional outlook on dance that is liberated from traditional rules and is premised on theatrical, visual representation.

Helen Tamiris was the founder of the Dance Repertory Theatre, which delivered performances along with famous modern dancers as Doris Humphrey, Martha Graham, and Charles Weidman. It also aims to organize dance performances and festivals to let the young and promising dancers reveal themselves in choreography.

Correcting Sentences

Hanya Holm carried the German expressionist dance of her mentor Mary Wigman, to America, where she established a school and company to train many fine dancers, including Alvin Ailey.

Eurhythmics is the name for the rhythmic movement exercises designed by Emile Jacques-Dalcroze who was interested in developing techniques that can train quick reaction, focused attention, and increased learning among children.

Isadora Duncan believed that all movements originated from her solar plexus. She also discovered the point of connection between the technical and spiritual approach.

“Kinetic Pantomime” is the term invented by Charles Weidman remained the main interest to describe his use of everyday gestures developed into dance, often for observing the humorous habits and trends in society, such as Flickers.

Doris Humphrey created a technique based on the percussive use of breath as a motivating force for movement, which is now called the “fall & recovery” technique.

Soaring is a work created by St. Denis who highlighted the idea of “music visualizations”.

Aaron Copland composed many beautiful works that capture the jazz motives of Latino spirit, as exemplified by his for Appalachian Winter.

The Folies Bergere is where Loie Fuller performed her famous Fire Dance and inspired Isadora Duncan and Ruth Denis to pursue their artistic vision.

Loie Fuller was famous for the development of personal improvisation techniques and natural movements. She used to combine her dancing with silk costumes. Theatrical lighting is also Fuller’s invention.

Doris Humphrey wrote “The Art of Making Dances”, which was the first book by a modern choreographer to explore the craft of choreography…it is still used in many dance comp classes!

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