Monday, March 2, 2009

Ballet Vocabulary

Ballet Vocabulary

Adage, Adagio
[French: a-DAHZH]
Adage is a French word derived from the Italian ad agio, meaning at ease or leisure. English ballet teachers use "adage," the French adaptation, while Americans prefer the original Italian. In dancing it has two meanings: (1) A series of exercises following the centre practice, consisting of a succession of slow and graceful movements which may be simple or of the most complex character, performed with fluidity and apparent ease. These exercises develop a sustaining power, sense of line, balance and the beautiful poise which enables the dancer to perform with majesty and grace. The principal steps of adagio are pliés, développés, grand fouetté en tournant, dégagés, grand rond de jambe, rond de jambe en l'air, coupés, battements tendus, attitudes, arabesques, preparations for pirouettes and all types of pirouettes. (2) The opening section of the classical pas de deux, in which the ballerina assisted by her male partner, performs the slow movements and enlèvements in which the danseur lifts, supports or carries the danseuse. The danseuse thus supported exhibits her grace, line and perfect balance while executing développés, pirouettes, arabesques and so on, and achieves combinations of steps and poses which would be impossible without the aid of her partner.

Air, en l'
[ahn lehr]
In the air. Indicates: (1) that a movement is to be made in the air; for example, rond de jambe en l'air; (2) that the working leg, after being opened to the second or fourth position à terre, is to be raised to a horizontal position with the toe on the level of the hip.

[a-lay-GROH; Italian: al-LAY-groh]
Brisk, lively. A term applied to all bright and brisk movements. All steps of elevation such as the entrechat, cabriole, assemblé, jeté and so on, come under this classification. The majority of dances, both solo and group, are built on allegro. The most important qualities to aim at in allégro are lightness, smoothness and ballon.

One of the basic poses in ballet, arabesque takes its name from a form of Moorish ornament. In ballet it is a position of the body, in profile, supported on one leg, which can be straight or demi-plié, with the other leg extended behind and at right angles to it, and the arms held in various harmonious positions creating the longest possible line from the fingertips to the toes. The shoulders must be held square to the line of direction. The forms of arabesque are varied to infinity. The Cecchetti method uses five principal arabesques; the Russian School (Vaganova), four; and the French School, two. Arabesques are generally used to conclude a phrase of steps, both in the slow movements of adagio and the brisk, gay movements of allégro.

Assembled or joined together. A step in which the working foot slides well along the ground before being swept into the air. As the foot goes into the air the dancer pushes off the floor with the supporting leg, extending the toes. Both legs come to the ground simultaneously in the fifth position. If an assemblé is porté it requires a preparatory step such as a glissade to precede it. If an assemblé is en tournant it must be preceded by a preparatory step. Assemblés are done petit or grand according to the height of the battement and are executed dessus, dessous, devant, derrière, en avant, en arrière and en tournant. They may be done en face, croisé, effacé or écarté. Assemblé may also be done with a beat for greater brilliance. In the Cecchetti assemblé both knees are bent and drawn up after the battement so that the flat of the toes of both feet meet while the body is in the air.

A particular pose in dancing derived by Carlo Blasis from the statue of Mercury by Giovanni da Bologna. It is a position on one leg with the other lifted in back, the knee bent at an angle of 90 degrees and well turned out so that the knee is higher than the foot. The supporting foot may be à terre, sur la pointe or sur la demi-pointe. The arm on the side of the raised leg is held over the head in a curved position while the other arm is extended to the side. There are a number of attitudes according to the position of the body in relation to the audience.

Rocking step. This step is very much like a pas de valse and is an alternation of balance, shifting the weight from one foot to the other. Balancé may be done crossing the foot either front or back. Fifth position R foot front. Demi-plié, dégagé the R foot to the second position and jump on it lightly in demi-plié, crossing the L foot behind the R ankle and inclining the head and body to the right. Step on the L demi-pointe behind the R foot, slightly lifting the R foot off the ground; then fall on the R foot again in demi-plié with the L foot raised sur le cou-de-pied derrière. The next balancé will be to the left side. Balancé may also be done en avant or en arrière facing croisé or effacé and en tournant.

Bounce. Ballon is the light, elastic quality in jumping in which the dancer bounds up from the floor, pauses a moment in the air and descends lightly and softly, only to rebound in the air like the smooth bouncing of a ball.

Élévation is the ability of a dancer to attain height in dancing. It is a term used to describe the height attained in springing steps such as entrechats, grands jetés and so on, combined with ballon so that the dancer jumps with a graceful elasticity like the bouncing movement of a rubber ball which touches the ground a moment and then rebounds into the air. The elevation is reckoned by the distance between the pointed toes of the dancer in the air and the ground. In alighting after a pas d'élévation the tips of the toes should reach the ground first, quickly followed by the sole and then the heel. All steps of' elevation begin and end with a demi-plié.

Ballonné, pas
[pah ba-law-NAY]
Ball-like or bouncing step. A step in which the dancer springs into the air extending one leg to the front, side or back and lands with the extended leg either sur le cou-de-pied or retiré. There are two kinds of ballonné: ballonné simple, which may be performed petit or grand; and ballonné compose, which is a compound step consisting of three movements. Ballonné may be executed in all the directions of the bod

Tossed. This step consists of coupé dessous and coupé dessus performed in a series with a rocking, swinging movement. The step may be performed with straight knees at 45 degrees or with développés at 90 degrees. The direction of the body is effacé with the body inclining backward or forward with each change of weight. In the Russian School, ballotté is performed traveling forward on ballotté en avant and backward on ballotté en arrière to the place from which the first jump began. In the French School and the Cecchetti method, ballotté is performed on one spot.

Beating. A beating action of the extended or bent leg. There are two types of battements, grands battements and petits battements. The petis battements are: Battements tendus, dégagés, frappés and tendus relevés: stretched, disengaged, struck and stretched-and- lifted .

Battement dégagé
[bat-MAHN day-ga-ZHAY]
Disengaged battement. A term of the Cecchetti method. The battement dégagé is similar to the battement tendu but is done at twice the speed and the working foot rises about four inches from the floor with a well-pointed toe, then slides back into the the first or fifth position. Battements dégagés strengthen the toes, develop the instep and improve the flexibility of the ankle joint. Same as battement tendu jeté (Russian School), battement glissé (French School).

Battement en cloche, grand
[grahn bat-MAHN ahn klawsh]
Large battement like a bell. A term of the French School and the Cecchetti method. Grands battements en cloche are continuous grands battements executed from the fourth position front or back en l'air to the fourth position back or front en l'air, passing through the first position. Same as grand battement jeté balancé, but the body remains upright as the leg swings.

Battement fondu développé
[bat-MAHN fawn-DEW dayv-law-PAY]
Battement, sinking down, developed. This is an exercise in which the supporting leg is slowly bent in fondu with the working foot pointing on the ankle. As the supporting leg is straightened, the working leg unfolds and is extended to point on the floor or in the air. The movement is done devant, derrière and à la seconde. In fondu forward, the conditional position sur le cou-de-pied devant is used. In fondu back, the basic position sur le cou-de-pied derrière is used.

Battement frappé
[bat-MAHN fra-PAY]
Struck battement. An exercise in which the dancer forcefully extends the working leg from a cou-de-pied position to the front, side or back. This exercise strengthens the toes and insteps and develops the power of elevation. It is the basis of the allegro step, the jeté.

Battement sur le cou-de-pied, petit
[puh-TEE bat-MAHN sewr luh koo-duh-PYAY]
Small battement on the ankle. This is an exercise at the bar in which the working foot is held sur le cou-de-pied and the lower part of the leg moves out and in, changing the foot from sur le cou-de-pied devant to sur le cou-de-pied derrière and vice versa. Petits battements are executed with the supporting foot à terre, sur la demi-pointe or sur la pointe.

Battement tendu
[bat-MAHN tahn-DEW]
Battement stretched. A battement tendu is the commencing portion and ending portion of a grand battement and is an exercise to force the insteps well outward. The working foot slides from the first or fifth position to the second or fourth position without lifting the toe from the ground. Both knees must be kept straight. When the foot reaches the position pointe tendue, it then returns to the first or fifth position. Battements tendus may also be done with a demi-plié in the first or fifth position. They should be practiced en croix.

Battement, grand
[grahn bat-MAHN]
Large battement. An exercise in which the working leg is raised from the hip into the air and brought down again, the accent being on the downward movement, both knees straight. This must be done with apparent ease, the rest of the body remaining quiet. The function of grands battements is to loosen the hip joints and turn out the legs from the hips. Grands battements can be taken devant, derrière and à la seconde.

Beaten. Any step embellished with a beat is called a pas battu. As, for example, in jeté battu.

Broken, breaking. A small beating step in which the movement is broken. Brisés are commenced on one or two feet and end on one or two feet. They are done dessus, dessous, en avant and en arrière. Fundamentally a brisé is an assemblé beaten and traveled. The working leg brushes from the fifth position to the second position so that the point of the foot is a few inches off the ground, and beats in front of or behind the other leg, which has come to meet it; then both feet return to the ground simultaneously in demi-plié in the fifth position.

Brisé volé
[bree-ZAY vaw-LAY]
Flying brisé. In this brisé the dancer finishes on one foot after the beat, the other leg crossed either front or back. The foundation of this step is a fouetté movement with a jeté battu. In the Russian and French Schools the raised leg finishes sur le cou-de-pied devant or derrière and the brisé volé is done like a jeté battu. In the Cecchetti method, the working foot passes through the first position to the fourth position, the calves are beaten together and on alighting the free leg is extended forward or back with a straight knee.

Caper. An allegro step in which the extended legs are beaten in the air. Cabrioles are divided into two categories: petite, which are executed at 45 degrees, and grande, which are executed at 90 degrees. The working leg is thrust into the air, the underneath leg follows and beats against the first leg, sending it higher. The landing is then made on the underneath leg. Cabriole may be done devant, derrière and à la seconde in any given position of the body such as croisé, effacé, écarté, etc.

Chains, links. This is an abbreviation of the term "tours chaînés déboulés": a series of rapid turns on the points or demi-pointes done in a straight line or in a circle.

Changement de pieds
[shahnzh-MAHN duh pyay]
Change of feet. The term is usually abbreviated to changement. Changements are springing steps in the fifth position, the dancer changing feet in the air and alighting in the fifth position with the opposite foot in the front. They are done petit and grand.

Chased. A step in which one foot literally chases the other foot out of its position; done in a series.

Cou-de-pied, sur le
[sewr luh koo-duh-PYAY]
On the "Neck" of the foot. The working foot is placed on the part of the leg between the base of the calf and the beginning of the ankle.

Withdrawn. A position in which the thigh is raised to the second position en l'air with the knee bent so that the pointed toe rests in front of, behind or to the side of the supporting knee

Coupé jeté en tournant
[koo-PAY zhuh-TAY ahn toor-NAHN]
A compound step consisting of a coupé dessous making a three-quarter turn and a grand jeté en avant to complete the turn. The step is usually done in a series either en manège or en diagonale.

Running. As, for example, in pas de bourrée couru.

Croisé, croisée
Crossed. One of the directions of épaulement. The crossing of the legs with the body placed at an oblique angle to the audience. The disengaged leg may be crossed in the front or in the back.

Dedans, en
[ahn duh-DAHN]
Inward. In steps and exercises the term en dedans indicates that the leg, in a position à terre or en l'air, moves in a circular direction, counterclockwise from back to front. As, for example, in rond de jambe à terre en dedans. In pirouettes the term indicates that a pirouette is made inward toward the supporting leg.

Dehors, en
[ahn duh-AWR]
Outward. In steps and exercises the term en dehors indicates that the leg, in a position à terre or en l'air, moves in a circular direction, clockwise. As, for example, in rond de jambe à terre en dehors. In pirouettes the term indicates that a pirouette is made outward toward the working leg.

Half-bend of the knees. All steps of elevation begin and end with a demi-plié. See Plié.

In front. This term may refer to a step, movement or the placing of a limb in front of the body. In reference to a particular step the addition of the word "devant" implies that the working foot is closed in the front.

Développé, temps
[tahn dayv-law-PAY]
Time developed, developing movement. Through common usage the term has become abridged to développé. A développé is a movement in which the working leg is drawn up to the knee of the supporting leg and slowly extended to an open position en l'air and held there with perfect control. The hips are kept level and square to the direction in which the dancer is facing.

Separated, thrown wide apart. Écarté is one of the eight directions of the body, Cecchetti method. In this position the dancer faces either one of the two front corners of the room. The leg nearer the audience is pointed in the second position à terre or raised to the second position en l'air. The torso is held perpendicular. The arms are held en attitude with the raised arm being on the same side as the extended leg.

Escaping or slipping movement. An échappé is a level opening of both feet from a closed to an open position. There are two kinds of échappés: échappé sauté, which is done with a spring from the fifth position and finishes in a demi-plié in the open position, and échappé sur les pointes, or demi-pointes, which is done with a relevé and has straight knees when in the open position. In each case échappés are done to the second or fourth position, both feet traveling an equal distance from the original center of gravity.

Échappé sur les pointes
[ay-sha-PAY sewr lay pwent]
Échappé on the points or toes. Fifth position R foot front. Demi-plié and, with a little spring, open the feet to the second or fourth position sur les pointes. The feet should glide rapidly to the open position and both feet must move evenly. On reaching the open position both knees must be held taut. With a little spring return to the fifth position in demi-plié. If the échappé is done in the second position the R foot may be closed either front or back. In échappé to the fourth position facing en face, croisé or effacé, the movement is done from the fifth position to the fourth position without change.

Effacé, effacée
Shaded. One of the directions of épaulement in which the dancer stands at an oblique angle to the audience so that a part of the body is taken back and almost hidden from view. This direction is termed "ouvert" in the French method. Effacé is also used to qualify a pose in which the legs are open (not crossed). This pose may be taken devant or derrière, either à terre or en l'air.

Élévation is the ability of a dancer to attain height in dancing. It is a term used to describe the height attained in springing steps such as entrechats, grands jetés and so on, combined with ballon so that the dancer jumps with a graceful elasticity like the bouncing movement of a rubber ball which touches the ground a moment and then rebounds into the air. The elevation is reckoned by the distance between the pointed toes of the dancer in the air and the ground. In alighting after a pas d'élévation the tips of the toes should reach the ground first, quickly followed by the sole and then the heel. All steps of' elevation begin and end with a demi-plié.

Shouldering. The placing of the shoulders. A term used to indicate a movement of the torso from the waist upward, bringing one shoulder forward and the other back with the head turned or inclined over the forward shoulder. The two fundamental positions of épaulement are croisé and effacé. When épaulement is used the position of the head depends upon the position of the shoulders and the shoulder position depends upon the position of the legs. Épaulement gives the finishing artistic touch to every movement and is a characteristic feature of the modern classical style compared to the old French style. which has little épaulement.

Interweaving or braiding. A step of beating in which the dancer jumps into the air and rapidly crosses the legs before and behind each other. Entrechats are counted from two to ten according to the number of crossings required and counting each crossing as two movements, one by each leg; that is, in an entrechat quatre each leg makes two distinct movements. Entrechats are divided into two general classes: the even-numbered entrechats, or those which land on two feet-- deux, quatre, six, huit and dix-- and the odd-numbered entrechats, or those which land on one foot-- trois, cinq, sept and neuf.

Entrechat six
[ahn-truh-SHAH seess]
Six crossings. Demi-plié in the fifth position R foot front. With a strong jump open the legs, beat the R leg behind the L, open the legs, beat the R leg in front of the L, open the legs and finish in demi-plié in the fifth position R foot back.

Face, en
[ahn fahss]
Opposite (the audience); facing the audience.

Fondu, fondue
Sinking down. A term used to describe a lowering of the body made by bending the knee of the supporting leg. Saint-Léon wrote, "Fondu is on one leg what a plié is on two." In some instances the term fondu is also used to describe the ending of a step when the working leg is placed on the ground with a soft and gradual movement.

Whipped. A term applied to a whipping movement. The movement may be a short whipped movement of the raised foot as it passes rapidly in front of or behind the supporting foot or the sharp whipping around of the body from one direction to another. There is a great variety of fouettés: petit fouetté, which may be devant, à la seconde or derrière and executed à terre, sur la demi-pointe or sauté; and grand fouetté, which may be sauté, relevé and en tournant.

Fouetté en tournant, grand (Russian School)
[grahn fweh-TAY ahn toor-NAHN]

Fouetté rond de jambe en tournant
[fweh-TAY rawn duh zhahnb ahn toor-NAHN]
Whipped circle of the leg turning. This is the popular turn in which the dancer executes a series of turns on the supporting leg while being propelled by a whipping movement of the working leg. The whipping leg should be at hip level, with the foot closing in to the knee of the supporting leg. Fouettés are usually done in a series. They may be executed en dehors or en dedans.
En dehors (Russian School): Fourth position R foot back. Execute a pirouette en dehors on the L leg. Fondu on the L leg, at the same time opening the R leg to the second position en l'air. Relevé on the L point or demi-pointe, executing a tour en dehors and whipping the R foot in back of, then quickly in front of, the L knee. Fondu on the L leg, opening the R leg to the second position en l'air.
En dehors (Cecchetti method): Fourth position R foot back. Execute a pirouette en dehors on the L leg. Fondu on the L leg, at the same time extending the R leg to quatrième position devant en l'air (croisé devant). Relevé on the L point or demi-pointe, sweeping the R leg to the second position en l'air, and execute a tour en dehors, bringing the R foot to side and front of L knee. Fondu on the L foot, extending the R leg forward again. Three-quarters of the turn should be made with the R foot in position on the supporting knee. This fouetté may also be executed from a preparation starting with a pas de bourrée en dedans and finishing with a coupé dessous, opening the working leg to quatrième devant croisé.
En dedans (Russian School): Fouetté en dedans is done in the same manner as en dehors. After a pirouette en dedans the extension is made to the second position en l'air; next the foot is brought in front of, then in back of, the supporting knee.
En dedans (Cecchetti method): After a pirouette en dedans the working leg is extended to the fourth position derrière en l'air; then with a demi-rond de jambe en l'air en dedans the foot is brought to the front of the supporting knee.

Glide. A traveling step executed by gliding the working foot from the fifth position in the required direction, the other foot closing to it. Glissade is a terre à terre step and is used to link other steps. After a demi-plié in the fifth position the working foot glides along the floor to a strong point a few inches from the floor. The other foot then pushes away from the floor so that both knees are straight and both feet strongly pointed for a moment; then the weight is shifted to the working foot with a fondu. The other foot, which is pointed a few inches from the floor, slides into the fifth position in demi-plié. When a glissade is used as an auxiliary step for small or big jumps, it is done with a quick movement on the upbeat. Glissades are done with or without change of feet, and all begin and end with a demi-plié. There are six glissades: devant, derrière, dessous, dessus, en avant, en arrière, the difference between them depending on the starting and finishing positions as well as the direction. Glissade may also be done sur les pointes.


Jeté, pas
[pah zhuh-TAY]
Throwing step. A jump from one foot to the other in which the working leg is brushed into the air and appears to have been thrown. There is a wide variety of pas jetés (usually called merely jetés) and they may be performed in all directions.

Jeté entrelacé
[zhuh-TAY ahn-truh-la-SAY]
Jeté interlaced. A term of the Russian School. This jeté is done in all directions and in a circle. It is usually preceded by a chassé or a pas couru to give impetus to the jump. In the French School this is called "grand jeté dessus en tournant"; in the Cecchetti method, "grand jeté en tournant en arrière."

Jeté, grand
[grahn zhuh-TAV]
Large jeté. In this step the legs are thrown to 90 degrees with a corresponding high jump. It is done forward to attitude croisée or effacée, and to all the arabesques. It may also be done backward with the leg raised either croisé or effacé devant. Grand jeté is always preceded by a preliminary movement such as a glissade, pas couru or coupe.

Jeté en avant, grand
[grahn zhuh-TAY ah na-VAHN]
Large jeté forward. A big leap forward preceded by a preliminary movement such as a pas couru or a glissade, which gives the necessary push-off. The jump is done on the foot which is thrown forward as in grand battement at 90 degrees, the height of the jump depending on the strength of the thrust and the length of the jump depending on the strong push-off of the other leg which is thrust up and back. The dancer tries to remain in the air in a definitely expressed attitude or arabesque and descends to the ground in the same pose. It is important to start the jump with a springy plié and finish it with a soft and controlled plié.

Circular. A term applied to steps or enchaînements executed in a circle.

Pas de bourrée
[pah duh boo-RAY]
Bourrée step. Pas de bourrée is done dessous, dessus, devant, derrière, en avant, en arrière and en tournant, en dedans and en dehors, on the point or demi-pointe.

Pas de bourrée couru
[pah duh boo-RAY koo-REW]
Pas de bourrée, running. A term of the French School. This is a progression on the points or demi-pointes by a series of small, even steps with the feet close together. It may be done in all directions or in a circle.

Pas de chat
[pah duh shah]
Cat's-step. The step owes its name to the likeness of the movement to a cat's leap

Pas de deux
[pah duh duh]
Dance for two.

Pas de quatre
[pah duh KA-truh]
A dance for four. The most famous pas de quatre in ballet history took place in London on July 12, 1845, at a command performance for Queen Victoria, when the four greatest ballerinas of the nineteenth century, Marie Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Fanny Cerrito and Lucile Grahn, appeared together.

Pas de trois
[pah duh trwah]
A dance for three. Similarly, a pas de cinq is a dance for five people; a pas de six is a dance for six people; etc.

Pas de valse
[pah duh valss]
Waltz step. Done with a graceful swaying of the body with various arm movements. May be done facing or en tournant. The step is like a balancé, but the feet do not cross.

Pas marché
[pah mar-SHAY]
Marching step. This is the dignified, classical walk of the ballerina and the premier danseur.

Pricked, pricking. Executed by stepping directly on the point or demi-pointe of the working foot in any desired direction or position with the other foot raised in the air. As, for example, in piqué en arabesque, piqué développé and so on.

Whirl or spin. A complete turn of the body on one foot, on point or demi-pointe. Pirouettes are performed en dedans, turning inward toward the supporting leg, or en dehors, turning outward in the direction of the raised leg. Correct body placement is essential in all kinds of pirouettes. The body must be well centered over the supporting leg with the back held strongly and the hips and shoulders aligned. The force of momentum is furnished by the arms, which remain immobile during the turn. The head is the last to move as the body turns away from the spectator and the first to arrive as the body comes around to the spectator, with the eyes focused at a definite point which must be at eye level. This use of the eyes while turning is called "spotting." Pirouettes may be performed in any given position, such as sur le cou-de-pied, en attitude, en arabesque, à la seconde, etc.

Penché, penchée
Leaning, inclining. As, for example, in arabesque penchée.

Pirouette à la seconde, grande
[grahrul peer-WET a lah suh-GAWND]
Large pirouette in the second position. This pirouette is usually performed by male dancers. It is a series of turns on one foot with the free leg raised to the second position en l'air at 90 degrees.

Pirouette piquée
[peer-WET pee-KAY]
Pricked pirouette. A term of the French School. Same as piqué tour en dedans. This is a pirouette in which the dancer steps directly onto the point or demi-pointe with the raised leg sur le cou-de-pied devant or derrière, in attitude, arabesque or any given position. This turn is executed either en dedans or en dehors.

Bent, bending. A bending of the knee or knees. This is an exercise to render the joints and muscles soft and pliable and the tendons flexible and elastic, and to develop a sense of balance. There are two principal pliés: grand plié or full bending of the knees (the knees should be bent until the thighs are horizontal) and demi-plié or half-bending of the knees. Pliés are done at the bar and in the centre in all five positions of the feet. The third position is usually omitted. When a grand plié is executed in either the first, third or fourth position croisé (feet in the fifth position but separated by the space of one foot) or the fifth position, the heels always rise off the ground and are lowered again as the knees straighten. The bending movement should be gradual and free from jerks, and the knees should be at least half-bent before the heels are allowed to rise. The body should rise at the same speed at which it descended, pressing the heels into the floor. In the grand plié in the second position or the fourth position ouverte (feet in the first position but separated by the space of one foot) the heels do not rise off the ground. All demi-pliés are done without lifting the heels from the ground. In all pliés the legs must be well turned out from the hips, the knees open and well over the toes, and the weight of the body evenly distributed on both feet, with the whole foot grasping the floor.

Port de bras
[pawr duh brah]
Carriage of the arms. The term port de bras has two meanings: (1) A movement or series of movements made by passing the arm or arms through various positions. The passage of the arms from one position to another constitutes a port de bras. (2) A term for a group of exercises designed to make the arms move gracefully and harmoniously. In the Cecchetti method there are eight set exercises on port de bras.
In the execution of port de bras the arms should move from the shoulder and not from the elbow and the movement should be smooth and flowing. The arms should be softly rounded so that the points of the elbows are imperceptible and the hands must be simple, graceful and never flowery. The body and head should come into play and a suggestion of épaulement should be used. In raising the arms from one position to another the arms must pass through a position known in dancing as the gateway. This position corresponds to the fifth position en avant, Cecchetti method, or the first position, French and Russian Schools. In passing from a high position to a low one, the arms are generally lowered in a line with the sides. Exercises on port de bras can be varied to infinity by combining their basic elements according to the taste of the professor and the needs of the pupil.

Porté, portée
Carried. Refers either to a step which is traveled in the air from one spot to another (such as assemblé dessus porté) or to the carrying of a danseuse by a danseur.

Raised. A raising of the body on the points or demi-pointes, point or demi-pointe. There are two ways to relevé. In the French School, relevé is done with a smooth, continuous rise while the Cecchetti method and the Russian School use a little spring. Relevé may be done in the first, second, fourth or fifth position, en attitude, en arabesque, devant, derrière, en tournant, passé en avant, passé en arrière and so on.

Ront de jambe
[rawn duh zhahnb]
Round of the leg, that is, a circular movement of the leg. Ronds de jambe are used as an exercise at the bar, in the centre and in the adage, and are done à terre or en l'air. When used as a step, ronds de jambe are done en l'air and may be sauté or relevé. All are done clockwise (en dehors) and counterclockwise (en dedans).

Rond de jambe à terre
[rawn duh zhahnb a tehr]
Rond de jambe on the ground. An exercise at the bar or in the centre in which one leg is made to describe a series of circular movements on the ground. Both legs must be kept perfectly straight and all movement must come from the hip, along with the arching and relaxing of the instep. The toe of the working foot does not rise off the ground and does not pass beyond the fourth position front (fourth position ouvert) or the fourth position back. This is an exercise to turn the legs out from the hips, to loosen the hips and to keep the toe well back and heel forward. There are two kinds of ronds de jambe à terre: those done en dedans (inward) and those done en dehors (outward).

Rond de jambe en l'air
[rawn duh zhahnb ahn lehr]
Rond de jambe in the air. Ronds de jambe en l'air are done at the bar and in centre practice and may be single, or double, en dehors or en dedans. The toe of the working foot describes an oval, the extreme ends of which are the second position en l'air and the supporting leg. The thigh must be kept motionless and the hips well turned out, the whole movement being made by the leg below the knee. The thigh should also be held horizontal so that the pointed toe of the working foot passes at (approximately) the height of the supporting knee. Ronds de jambe en l'air may also be done with the leg extended to the second position en l'air (demi-position) and closed to the calf of the supporting leg. The accent of the movement comes when the foot is in the second position en l'air. The movement is done en dehors and en dedans.

Royal. A changement in which the calves are beaten together before the feet change position. Also termed "changement battu."

Saut de basque
[soh duh bask]
(French and Russian Schools). Basque jump. A traveling step in which the dancer turns in the air with one foot drawn up to the knee of the other leg. Fifth position R foot front. Demi-plié with R foot retiré devant; step on the R foot in demi-plié to the second position, turning en dedans one half-turn and thrusting the L leg to the second position en l'air; push off the floor with the R foot and complete the turn, traveling to the side of the extended leg and landing on the L foot in fondu with the R leg bent in retiré devant. Both legs should be fully turned out during the jump. Saut de basque may also be performed with a double turn in the air.

Sauté, sautée
Jumped, jumping. When this term is added to the name of a step, the movement is performed while jumping. As, for example, échappé sauté. Note: In all jumping movements the tips of the toes should be the first to reach the ground after the jump, then the sole of the foot followed by the heel. In rising from the ground the foot moves in the reverse order.

Sissonne is named for the originator of the step. It is a jump from both feet onto one foot with the exception of sissonne fermée, sissonne tombée and sissonne fondue, which finish on two feet. Sissonne may be performed petite or grande. The petites sissonnes are sissonne simple, sissonne fermée, sissonne ouverte at 45 degrees and sissonne tombée at 45 degrees. The grandes sissonnes are sissonne ouverte at 90 degrees, sissonne renversée and sissonne soubresaut.

Sissonne fermée
[see-SAWN fehr-MAY]
Closed sissonne. A step of low elevation performed to a quick tempo. This sissonne finishes on two feet with the working foot gliding along the floor into the demi-plié in the fitth position. It may be performed en avant, en arrière and de côté in all directions, such as croisé, effacé, écarté, etc.

Sissonne ouverte, grande
[grahnd see-SAWN oo-VEHRT]
Big open sissonne. This sissonne is usually performed with high elevation and is done from a demi-plié on both feet and finished on one foot with the other leg raised in the desired pose, such as attitude, arabesque, à la seconde, etc. It is performed en avant, en arrière, de côté, en tournant and is done with a développé or a grand battement at 90 degrees.

Temps lié sur les pointes
[tahn Iyay sewr lay pwent]
Connected movement on the points.

Tour de force
[toor duh fawrss]
An arresting, vital step; a feat of technical skill such as a series of brilliant pirouettes or a combination of outstanding jumps and beats.

Tour en l'air
[toor ahn lehr]
Turn in the air. This is essentially a male dancer's step although contemporary choreographers use this tour for girls. lt is a turn in the air in which the dancer rises straight into the air from a demi-plié, makes a complete turn and lands in the fifth position with the feet reversed. The turn may be single, double or triple according to the ability of the dancer. The arms assist and the head must spot as in pirouettes. Tour en l'air may also be finished in various poses such as attitude, arabesque, grande seconde or on one knee. It may also be done in a series.

Jeté entrelacé
[zhuh-TAY ahn-truh-la-SAY]
Jeté interlaced. A term of the Russian School. This jeté is done in all directions and in a circle. It is usually preceded by a chassé or a pas couru to give impetus to the jump. In the French School this is called "grand jeté dessus en tournant"; in the Cecchetti method, "grand jeté en tournant en arrière."

Tournant, en
[ahn toor-NAHN]
Turning. Indicates that the body is to turn while executing a given step. As, for example, in assemblé en tournant.

Third. As, for example, in troisième arabesque.

Dance History Final Project – Lecture-Demonstration

Dance History Final Project – Lecture-Demonstration

Ballet Portion:
• Use the reading and lecture notes for reference. It is not necessary to do further research.

Fokine & Diaghilev:
Yarimar Navarro
Writing prompt:
• What kind of change did Fokine make during the Diaghilev period?

Keiara Avinger:
Writing prompt:
• Who is Diaghilev? Choreographer? Dancer? Impresario? What did he actually do?

Anna Pavlova
Taila Greer: (You need to coordinate with Isadora Duncan)
Writing/speaking prompt:
• What is Anna Pavlova most famous for?
• What is her connection to Fokine & Diaghliev?
• How was her dancing influence by Isadora?

Performance piece:” The Dying Swan”. Music provided: Saint-Saens

Romantic Period:
Speaking assignment:
As group talk 5 min about Romantic Period: What is Romantic Period? Between what years was the Romantic period? How the ballet Technique& Costumes developed during the Romantic period? Talk about the influence of Marie Camargo & Salle in Romantic Period. Show a video clip not longer than 3 min what illustrates Body line, costumes and Pas de deux.

Bianca Distefano
Writing prompt:
• From the Arts prospective (music, literature,….etc)what are characteristics of Romanticism?
Brett Bell
• Who is Bournonville? Name some of his works.
Shakima Bowie
• Make a list of characteristics of Romantic Ballet.
Ruth Etheart
• Who are the four characters in Pas de Quatre& how did the ballet “Pas de Quatre” developed.
Aura Tavares
• Write about Ballet & Opera in 1800. Connect Romantic to the Renaissance
Karen Cedant
• Write with your own words the plot of “La Sylphide”
Gabriela Silva
• Write about the importance of Male & Female dancers in Romantic period. What is Pas de Deux? Compare and connect the Romantic ballet with Classical ballet.

Classical Period:
Speaking assignment:
As group talk 5 min about Classical Period: What is Classical Period? Between what years was the Classical period? How the ballet Technique& Costumes developed during the Classical period? Talk about the influence of Marius Petipa & Lev Ivanov. Show a video clip not longer than 3 min what illustrates Body line, costumes and Grand Pas de Deux.

Phania Exavier
• Write and explain about the second Petipa “Ingredient” Spectacle.
Rachel Klein
• Write and explain about the 5th Petipa “Ingredient” Grand Pas de Deux. Compare and connect between Classical ballet and Romantic ballet.
Taylor Oliveira
• Write and explain about the first Petipa “Ingredient” Grand classical style. Write about the importance of Male & Female dancers in Classical period.
Stephone Nicholas
• Write and explain about the 6th Petipa “Ingredient” Finale. Compare and connect Classical ballet with Diaghilev period.
Takia Richardson
• Write and explain about the 4th Petipa “Ingredient” Choreographic variety. Compare and connect Ballet Comique de la Reine with Swan Lake (costumes. lines, length of performance dancers)
Ivana Rodrigues
• Write and explain about the 7th Petipa “Ingredient” Classical style. Compare and connect Swan Lake with Giselle (costumes, body alignment, technique, performance length, scenery).
Fedner Dorrelus
• Write and explain about the 3rd Petipa “Ingredient” Virtuosity. Compare and connect the technique (Virtuosity) from classical ballet and renaissance.

Modern Portion:
• Use the reading and lecture notes for reference. It is not necessary to do further research.
• Speak in first person

Isadora Duncan: (You need to coordinate with Anna Pavlova)
Yarimar Navarro
Writing/speaking prompt:
• What were your inspirations?
• What are you dancing about?

Keiara Avinger:
Writing/speaking prompt:
• What were you trying to break away from with your art?
• What was your influence to the ballet world (specifically Diaghilev, Fokine and Pavlova) and the development of modern dance as an art form?

Performance piece: 1 min dance in the style of Isadora Duncan, wearing a tunic. Music provided: Brahms waltz.

Denishawn: Ruth St. Denis & Ted Shawn
Shakima Bowie: Ruth St. Denis
Writing/speaking prompt:
• Your first inspiration for dance
• What were some characteristics of your dances and what did they meant to you?

Ruth Etheart: Ted Shawn
Writing/speaking prompt:
• Your connection to Ruth St. Denis
• Some of your major contributions in and outside of Denishawn

Aura Tavares: Denishawn
Writing/speaking prompt:
• Denishawn, the school and company
• What is the significance and how did it influence the development of modern dance?
Performance piece for the group: Either learn from video or create a 1 min solo that Denishawn could have performed, and danced in costume.

Martha Graham
Ivana Rodrigues
Writing/speaking prompt:
• Influence of Louis Horst on her
• The essence of her technique

Stephone Nicholas
Writing/speaking prompt:
• The major characteristics of her dance in terms of what were her dances about.
• Some of her choreographic devices

Takiya Richardson
Writing/speaking prompt:
• Her collaboration with other artists
• Why is Martha Graham such an icon in modern dance?

Performance piece for the group: Perform a 1 min segment from Martha Graham’s work. Music provided: Appalachian Spring.

Humphrey/Weidman: Doris Humphrey & Charles Weidman
Taylor Oliveira
Writing/speaking prompt:
• The American dance that Humphrey/Weidman set out to create
• The essence of Humphrey/Weidman technique

Rachel Klein
Writing/speaking prompt:
• Doris Humphrey’s ideas about dance
• Her major contributions

Phania Exavier
Writing/speaking prompt:
• Charles Weidman’s unique style in choreography

Performance piece for the group: Water Study. No music required, just breathe. Wear unitard or leotards & tights in water color

Jose Limon
Brett Bell
Writing/speaking prompt:
• His connection to Doris Humphrey and how he continued the lineage.

Bianca Distefano
Writing/speaking prompt;
• Jose Limon as a performer
• Characteristics of his choreography

Performance piece for the group: 1 min segment from There is a Time. Music provided.

Paul Taylor
Karen Cedant:
Writing/speaking prompt:
• Paul Taylor’s background before he became a dancer, and his training as a dancer

Fedner Dorrelus:
Writing/speaking prompt:
• The characteristics and range of choreography created by Paul Taylor

Gabriela Silva:
Writing/speaking prompt:
• Tayor’s connection to Martha Graham
• Is he a follower or rebel?

Performance piece for the group: 1 min segment from Esplande. Music: Bach’s concerto . Dance dresses and leotard and pants.

Merce Cunningham = Ms Chan
Chance Choreography: performed by the entire class

Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor
1930 -

One never knows quite what to expect of Paul Taylor. His choreography keeps slipping unpredictably from style to style and theme to theme.

His father was a physicist; his mother managed a dining room in a Washington, D.C. hotel, and they divorced when he was young. Taylor, who was born in 1930, was attracted to both art and athletics. As a student at the University of Syracuse, he was asked to serve as partner in a program by the campus modern dance club. That so whetted his interest in dance that he finally summoned the courage to tell his athletic coach that he wished to become a professional dancer. The coach proved more sympathetic to dance than Ted Shawn's fraternity brothers had been. "Kiddo," he said, "you sound like you've gone bonkers, but I guess there's no stopping you."

Taylor studied dance at Juilliard and performed with the companies of Cunningham and Graham. When Graham and George Balanchine collaborated on Episodes in 1958, Balanchine created a solo especially for Taylor. In the mid-1950S, Taylor began offering his own programs. Much of his early choreography was whimsical or eccentric. Typically, Three Epitaphs (a 1960 revision of a 1956 piece called Four Epitaphs) depicted bizarre creatures totally encased in black costumes designed by Robert Rauschenberg who slouched and loped to recordings of old New Orleans funeral music in a manner that was simultaneously funny, grotesque, and endearing.

A 1957 concert by Taylor left one distinguished dance critic totally speechless. The entire program was based on walking and running steps and simple, but significant, changes of position. In Epic, Taylor, neatly attired in a business suit, slowly moved and paused and resumed his steps to recorded time signals. Duet, for Taylor and Toby Glanternik, involved held positions: Taylor remained standing and Glanternik remained sitting throughout the piece-and that was the entire dance. The uncompromising simplicity of these works so befuddled Louis Horst that his review for Dance Observer consisted of nothing but a blank space with his initials at the bottom of it.

Although Taylor reveled in absurdity, he soon demonstrated that his choreographic personality was split in several ways. His Aureole (1962) surprised dancegoers not with its oddity, but with its lyricism, and this dance to the music of Handel became one of Taylor's most popular creations. Its serene joy has even struck some audiences as balletic. However, its resemblance to ballet is superficial, and when Taylor stages Aureole for ballet companies, he finds that members of these troupes often find it difficult, for the choreography abounds with "unclassical" swings of the arms and jutting hips; moreover, whereas many ballets require their dancers to take lightness for granted, the dancers in Aureole are made to appear weighted bodies which achieve lightness.

Because of its sheer diversity, Taylor's work has come to epitomize the pluralism of modern dance since the 1960S. Taylor himself ignores all restrictive compositional theories. For him, as he put it, "There are no rules, just decisions."

Of all the American modern choreographers since Graham, it is Taylor who has developed the most diverse repertoire for his company. He tries to make each new work have a form, a style, and what could be called a movement palette uniquely its own.

Many of his most popular creations-among them, Airs (1978) and Arden Court (1981)-are genial. Pleasant to behold, they can at the same time be stimulating to think about because of the compositional principles on which they are built. Thus Arden Court is undeniably lyrical. But Taylor achieves lyricism not by emphasizing graceful steps for women, as some choreographers might do, but by stressing the male dancers in the cast. Taylor makes the men move with great speed, but the overall effect is idyllic, rather than purely athletic.

Taylor is a moralist as well as an entertainer. In serious and humorous works alike, he grapples with the problem of how to achieve a golden mean in life, and he deplores extreme behavior of any kind, be it puritanical or licentious. In Big Bertha (1971), members of a seemingly ordinary family are driven to violence and sexual depravity by an alluring, yet menacing, automaton. The apparently elegant people of Cloven Kingdom (1976) shed their fine manners and behave like beasts. Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal )- Taylor's disquieting interpretation of Stravinsky- is simultaneously a detective story about gangsters and a kidnapped baby and a peek into the backstage life of a dance company rehearsing a detective-story ballet. Because Taylor deliberately fails to supply motivation for many of the startling events in his Sacre, this work of 1980 can be viewed as a choreographic depiction of life at its most irrational and inexplicable.

Taylor remains fascinated by the ambiguities of movement. Esplanade (1975) is made up of nothing but such ordinary actions as walking, running, sliding, falling, and jumping. But these commonplace steps are taken to virtuoso extremes: only trained dancers can walk and run with such ease and abandon. In Polaris (1976), Taylor offers the same dance twice with no choreographic changes whatsoever. Yet each presentation of this basic dance has different lighting designs and is performed by a different cast to different music by Donald York-and the effect each time is totally dissimilar. Taylor knows how to please the eye and how to test his audience's powers of perception.

Lester Horton

Lester Horton

Lester Horton was a choreographic individualist on the West Coast and did not bring his Los Angeles company to New York until shortly before his death in 1953. Born in 1906, Horton studied art and ballet and became involved in little theatre activities in his native Indianapolis. American Indian culture fascinated him, and in 1928 he was invited to California to stage a pageant based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha. As a young Bohemian, Horton kept his hair long and bushy and favored Indian shirts and huaraches. He directed plays and pageants and worked with Michio Ito, then organized his own Lester Horton Dancers in 1932.

Horton explored the black, Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican communities of Los Angeles and made friends in all of these districts. He staged dances on Mexican, Haitian, and American Indian themes. He also choreographed his own version of Le Sacre du Printemps in 1937. One dramatic subject that obsessed him all his life was the story of Salome. He created his first Salome in 1934; other versions followed in later years, one under the title Face of Violence. Under any title, Salome was forceful and macabre.

Also in 1934, Horton began his association with Bella Lewitzky, a strikingly dramatic performer who for the next fifteen years served as his choreographic guinea pig and leading lady. Together, they began to develop a systematized plan of teaching, laying the groundwork of what came to be known as "Horton technique."

Just as modern dancers often took work in the commercial theatre in order to earn money, so Horton's dancers appeared ill stage shows and Hollywood films. Horton struggled to make ends meet. Yet he managed to survive and, by doing so, he demonstrated that New York did not have to be the only home for modern dance in America.

Until his death in 1953, Lester Horton remained active in Los Angeles. His later works included further revisions of Salome, as well as The Beloved, a savage portrait of a stern, religiously bigoted husband who kills his wife when he suspects her of infidelity. Horton welcomed dancers of all races into his company and, a generous man, offered a multitude of scholarships. Among the dancers who worked with him in the years before his death were Alvin Ailey, Carmen de Lavallade, Joyce Trisler, and James Truitte.

Excerpted from Art Without Boundaries: The World of Modern Dance
By Jack Anderson

Merce Cunningham (a)

Merce Cunningham
1919 -

Merce Cunningham's innovations have been especially controversial and influential. Born in Centralia, Washington, in 1919, he began to study dance locally at the age of twelve. Intending to become an actor, he enrolled at the Cornish School in Seattle, where he was encouraged to dance by Bonnie Bird, a former member of the Graham Company who was on the Cornish faculty. There he also met John Cage, a young experimental composer. Together, Cunningham and Cage developed unconventional ideas of dance composition.

Committed to a dance career, Cunningham attended Bennington's 1939 session at Mills College in Oakland, California, where he attracted the attention of Martha Graham. After moving to New York, he danced with her company, 1939-1945, and presented his first New York choreography in 1942 in a concert he shared with Jean Erdman and Nina Fonaroff. He also toured as a dance soloist in musical programs by Cage. After 1945, he devoted himself full-time to his own choreography, with Cage serving as his artistic adviser.

Cunningham could be dramatically forceful as a performer, both in the Graham repertory and in his own early pieces. In 1945, Robert Sabin of Dance Observer called Experiences "the most gripping thing" Cunningham had done and found that it "marks a new advance in dramatic realization. Its ferocity and body dynamics, its 'freezes' (in which the movement is suddenly arrested with tremendous effect) are not only exciting as examples of virtuosity but they show a spirit of creative experimentation which promises well for the future." In that same review, Sabin noted that Cunningham was blessed with a sense of humor and found his Mysterious Adventure "deliciously impish in flavor."

Cunningham continued to receive praise for his dramatic presence and whimsical comedy. But he put these qualities to unconventional use. Even at the beginning of his career, he stood apart from many of his choreographic colleagues. Reviewing a 1944 concert, Sabin presciently observed that the event was unusual for its "pure, unadulterated dancing. ...He is a classicist (if one may venture to use that dangerous word) in the sense that he absolutely believes in dance as an independent medium of expression with its own laws and objectives."

Printed programs for Cunningham's concerts often included this credo: "Dancing has a continuity of its own that need not be dependent upon either the rise and fall of sound, or the pitch and cry of words. Its force of feeling lies in the physical image, fleeting or static.
It can and does evoke all sorts of individual responses in the single spectator." Cunningham's dances were plotless. Nevertheless, they were perceived as having their own special choreographic personalities and atmospheres, possibly because the specific kinds of movements he favored in each prompted similar reactions in the-audiences that beheld them. Thus, no one ever called Cunningham's harsh Winterbranch sweet or his lyrical Summerspace savage.

Cunningham often commissioned new music, and his designers over the years included such eminent artists as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol. Yet he made no attempt to have dance phrases coincide with musical phrases and the decor for his dances never literally illustrated anything in them. In 1959, when he choreographed Septet to an existing score-Erik Satie's "Trois Morceaux en Forme de Poire"-some audiences were startled by Cunningham's treatment of the music-as, for instance, in moments when dancers stood perfectly still to loud chords that might have inspired other choreographers to devise passages of frantic activity. Cunningham has said, "It is hard for many people to accept that dancing has nothing in common with music other than the element of time and the division of time." In his productions, dancing, music, and stage design do not provide one another with mutual support; rather, they coexist.

Cunningham came to believe that any space can be danced in and that any point in space can be of interest. For him, stage space was an empty field. He therefore ignored traditional theories of stage direction that maintain that stage center is "strong," whereas movements at the sides of the stage may be "weak."

Just as any point in space can be significant, so, for Cunningham, any movement, however fancy or ordinary, can serve as a dance movement. This theory paralleled John Cage's belief that any sound can be used in a piece of music. Concertgoers found many of the sounds in Cage's early works beguiling, for he explored the possibilities of what he called the prepared piano: a piano with objects carefully placed upon its strings so as to alter their customary timbres. Cage's prepared pianos reminded audiences of unconventionally tuned harpsichords or Balinese gamelans. But as Cage continued his experiments, he alienated some listeners with electronic scores that were found loud, harsh, and grating. The music he composed for
Cunningham's Aeon outraged dancegoers at its premiere at the American Dance Festival in 1961. It "ran its fingernails over our eardrums," Doris Hering complained, and Louis Horst dismissed it as "shattering and ear-splitting noise." A scientist in the "audience even announced, "The sound level in that auditorium is dangerous for human ears."

Whatever sounds may have accompanied them, Cunningham's choreographic phrases were so lucid that his style was sometimes compared with ballet. Nevertheless, despite what could be called his “classical" tendencies, his choreography was often controversial. His theories regarding chance and indeterminacy helped make it so. These words bewilder some dancegoers, who regard them as synonyms for improvisation. But Cunningham's choreography is not improvised; his dancers do not invent their steps as they go along. Indeed, if he had not publicly announced that he employed chance in making some works, spectators might not even suspect that he had done so.

Cunningham first employed chance in 1951 when he choreographed Sixteen Dances for Soloist and Company of Three, a work inspired by the Indian theatre's nine traditional categories of human emotions. Unable to decide which emotion should follow which onstage, Cunningham threw a coin to determine the order; but once that order was established, it remained unaltered. For Suite by Chance (1953), he prepared elaborate charts of possible movements, then selected the specific ones to be employed by tossing coins. If he had not said that he had done so, few (if any) spectators could have guessed it.

In contrast, effects of indeterminacy can be visible in the theatre- provided one sees more than a single performance of a given dance. In indeterminate compositions, the choreographer or the dancers can alter the order of sequences or omit some of them at each performance. But, once again, they do not have the freedom to improvise. Although Cunningham devised thirteen brief dances for his suite Dime a Dance (1953), only eight of them were ever presented on any night. The cast members of Field Dances (1963) were assigned a specific number of things to do, but were left free to do them at whatever speed they chose, as often as they wished, and in any order.

Cunningham's fascination with chance and indeterminacy had historical precedents, for the Dadaists and Surrealists had made use of chance. Like them, Cunningham believes that most people too easily become creatures of habit. Through chance, however, artists can discover images or patterns that their purely rational minds might not have invented. Chance also allows creators to ignore or transcend conventional cause-and-effect logic. Chance leaves room for surprise.

From Art without boundaries: The World of Modern Dance
By Jack Anderson

Alwin Nikolais


My total theater concept consciously started about 1950, although the seeds of it began much earlier I'm sure. First was expansion. I used masks and props-the masks, to have the dancer become something else; and props, to extend his physical size in space. (These latter were not instruments to be used as shovels or swords-but rather as extra bones and flesh.) I began to see the potentials of this new creature and in 1952 produced a program called Masks Props & Mobiles. I began to establish my philosophy of man being a fellow traveler within the total universal mechanism rather than the god from which all things flowed. The idea was both humiliating and aggrandizing. He lost his domination but instead became kinsman to the universe.
* * *

Dancers often get into the pitfall of emotion rather than motion. To me motion is primary-it is the condition of motion which culminates into emotion. In other words it is our success or failure in action in time and space which culminates in emotion. This drama of action is universally understood by Chinese, Africans, South Americans and the Zulus. We do not have to be educated to understand the abstract language of motion, for motion is the stuff with which our every moment of life is preciously concerned. So in the final analysis the dancer is a specialist in the sensitivity to, the perception and the skilled execution of motion. Not movement but rather the qualified itinerary en route. The difference may be made even clearer by giving the example of two men walking from Hunter College to 42nd and Broadway. One man may accomplish it totally unaware of and imperceptive to the trip, having his mind solely on the arrival. He has simply moved from one location to another. The other may, bright-eyed and bright-brained, observe and sense all thru which he passes. He has more than moved-he is in motion.
* * *

From The Vision of Modern Dance: In the Words of Its Creators
Edited by Jean Morrison Brown, Naomi Mindlin & Charles H. Woodford

Alwin Nikolais

Alwin Nikolais has been called choreography's Wizard of Oz. Nikolais himself said he was a choreographic polygamist because he sought "a polygamy of motion, shape, color, and sound." Whatever one called him, he was a creator of a multimedia form that made dazzling use of theatrical illusion.

Nikolais (1912-1993) was born in Southington, Connecticut, and as a young man worked as a puppeteer and as a pianist for silent films. A performance by Mary Wigman made him want to study with one of her disciples-but not primarily to learn dance. Rather, he was intrigued by her use of percussion instruments. He found a Wigman-trained teacher, Truda Kaschmann, in Hartford. His love of dance soon equaled his love of music, and he studied at the Bennington summer schools, where he was particularly impressed by Hanya Holm's teaching. After military service in World War II, he became her assistant.

In 1948, he joined the staff of the Henry Street Settlement Playhouse-the former Neighborhood Playhouse-and it remained his base until the late 196os, when he found larger quarters necessary. He turned the tiny Henry Street Playhouse into a magician's box of marvels. Playing theatrical conjuring tricks, he not only choreographed his productions, but also designed scenery, costumes, and lighting and composed their electronic scores.

Nikolais transformed the appearance of dancers by encasing them in fantastic constructions or by attaching sculptural shapes to their bodies. He also flooded dancers with changing light patterns so as to blur distinctions between illusion and reality and make it difficult for spectators to determine which shapes before them were real and which were shadows or slide projections. Nikolais's use of technology made him an artistic heir of Lole Fuller and Oskar Schlemmer.

Masks, Props and Mobiles (1953), Nikolais's first major multimedia effort, has a much-praised episode in which dancers encased in bags stretch themselves into odd shapes as they move. The shape of dancing bodies in Kaleidoscope (1962) was altered with the aid of discs, poles, paddles, hoops, straps, and capes. Nikolais subtitled Imago (1963) "The City Curious," and its inhabitants included scurrying robotlike figures, men with fantastically long arms who are hooked together as if in a giant chain, and men and women who move between lines of elastic tape stretched from one side of the stage to the other. At various points in Sanctum (1964), dancers had to swing from a trapeze, manipulate silver poles, and struggle to escape from enclosures that kept changing size.

Some of Nikolais's productions can be enjoyed simply as abstract studies in motion. Others possess thematic implications: the way a tower explodes after dancers have struggled to erect it in Tower (1965) brings to mind the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, and with the aid of slide projections Nikolais makes dancers resemble water plants and creatures in Pond (1982).

Echoing complaints once brought against Schlemmer, Nikolais's detractors contended that he dehumanized dancers. But George Beiswanger defended Nikolais's choreographic approach by pointing out that Nikolais "wants things to move, to be seen, and to be heard, and he wants the resulting aliveness of things to be apparent even when the things are dancers. Hence the props dance and the dancers prop (not that they do not dance as well). Now one may take this in two ways, as dehumanizing the dancer or as animizing the thing. I am inclined, perhaps perversely, to the latter view." 16 It can also be argued that, by uniting dancers with scenic effects, Nikolais choreographically expressed ecological concerns and that the harmonious or contentious encounters between dancers and objects are parables of ways in which people interact with their environment in the real world.

However one interprets them, Nikolais's productions are almost always entertaining. He not only resembles the Wizard of Oz, he is also akin to the Wizard's creator, L. Frank Baum, that lover of peculiar animated gadgets. Nikolais himself once admitted, "I am a compulsive creator-if you gave me a schnauzer, two Armenian chastity belts and a 19th-century dish pan-I would attempt to create something with them."

In addition to training dancers, the Nikolais studio has encouraged choreographers-among them Murray Louis and Phyllis Lamhut. Each has performed with the Nikolais company as well as in each other's works.

Louis, who was born in 1926, began his dance studies with Anna Halprin in San Francisco after military service during World War II. Back in his native New York, he became Nikolais's artistic associate in 1949 and has headed his own successful company, which on several occasions merged with that of Nikolais.

A remarkable virtuoso, Louis can isolate parts of his body and make his limbs move in various, even seemingly contradictory, ways, as if each had a will of its own. His less successful choreography can sometimes appear unduly twitchy. But when he is at his creative best, his dancing and that of his company can be precise and expertly timed, especially to comic effect.

Among his most acclaimed comic pieces are Junk Dances (1964), a portrait of a husband and wife (Louis and Lam hut) surviving marital vicissitudes in what can be interpreted either as a literal junkyard or a theatrical metaphor for an emotional trashpile, and Hoopla (1973), a tribute to circus acts. His works also extend from the somber all-male Calligraph for Martyrs (1961) to the lyrical Porcelain Dialogues (1974).

Lam hut, who was born on Manhattan's Lower East Side in 1933, received her early dance training at the Henry Street Settlement; although she has studied elsewhere, she has remained closely associated with Nikolais and Louis, as well as with the Hanya Holm Studio.
She first attracted attention as a deft comedienne, then expanded her scope to create large-scale ensembles with some of the fervor of the German Ausdruckstanz.

From Art Without Boundaries: The World of Modern Dance
By Jack Anderson

Merce Cunningham

Space, Time and Dance, 1952

The dance is an art in space and time.
The object of the dancer is to obliterate that.

The classical ballet, by maintaining the image of the Renaissance perspective in stage thought, kept a linear form of space. The modern American dance, stemming from German expressionism and the personal feelings of the various American pio¬neers, made space into a series of lumps, or often just static hills on the stage with actually no relation to the larger space of the stage area, but simply forms that by their connection in time made a shape. Some of the space-thought coming from the German dance opened the space out, and left a momentary dealing of con¬nection with it, but too often the space was not visual enough because the physi¬cal action was all of lightness, like sky without earth, or heaven without hell.
The fortunate thing in dancing is that space and time cannot be disconnected, and everyone can see and understand that. A body still is taking up just as much space and time as a body moving. The result is that neither the one nor the other-moving or being still-is more or less important, except it's nice to see a dancer moving. But the moving becomes more clear if the space and time around the moving are one of its opposite-stillness. Aside from the personal skill and clarity of the individual dancer, there are certain things that make clear to a spectator what the dancer is doing. In the ballet the various steps that lead to the larger movements or poses have, by usage and by their momentum, become common ground upon which the spectator can lead his eyes and his feelings into the resulting action. This also helps define the rhythm, in fact more often than not does define it. In the modern dance, the tendency or the wish has been to get rid of these "unnecessary and balletic" movements, at the same time wanting the same result in the size and vigor of the movement as the balletic action, and this has often left the dancer and the spectator slightly short.
To quibble with that on the other side: one of the best discoveries the modern dance has made use of is the gravity of the body in weight, that is, as opposite from denying (and thus affirming) gravity by ascent into the air, the weight of the body in going with gravity, down. The word "heavy" connotes something incorrect, since what is meant is not the heaviness of a bag of cement falling, although we've all been spectators of that too, but the heaviness of a living body falling with full intent of eventual rise. This is not a fetish or a use of heaviness as an accent against a pre¬dominately light quality, but a thing in itself. By its nature this kind of moving would make the space seem a series of unconnected spots, along with the lack of clear-connecting movements in the modern dance.
A prevalent feeling among many painters that lets them make a space in which anything can happen is a feeling dancers may have too. Imitating the way nature makes a space and puts lots of things in it, heavy and light, little and big, all unrelated, yet each affecting all the others.
About the formal methods of choreography-some due to the conviction that a communication of one order or another is necessary; others to the feeling that mind follows heart, that is, form follows content; some due to the feeling that the musical form is the most logical to follow-the most curious to me is the general feeling in the mod¬ern dance that nineteenth-century forms stemming from earlier pre-classical forms are the only formal actions advisable, or even possible to take. This seems a flat contradiction of the modern dance-agreeing with the thought of discover¬ing new or allegedly new movement for contemporary reasons, the using of psy¬chology as a tremendous elastic basis for content, and wishing to be expressive of the "times" (although how can one be expressive of anything else)-but not feel¬ing the need for a different basis upon which to put this expression, in fact being mainly content to indicate that either the old forms are good enough, or further that the old forms are the only possible forms. These consist mainly of theme and variation, and associated devices-repetition, inversion, development, and manipulation. There is also a tendency to imply a crisis to which one goes and then in some way retreats from. Now I can't see that crisis any longer means a climax, unless we are willing to grant that every breath of wind has a climax (which I am), but then that obliterates climax, being a surfeit of such. And since our lives, both by nature by the newspapers, are so full of crisis that one is no longer aware of it, then it is clear that life goes on regardless, and further that each thing can be and is separate from each other, viz: the continuity of the newspa¬per headlines. Climax is for those who are swept by New Year's Eve.
More freeing into space that the theme and manipulation "holdup" would be formal structure based on time. Now time can be an awful lot of bother with the ordinary pinch¬penny counting that has to go on with it, but if one can think of the structure as a space of time in which anything can happen in any sequence of movement event, and any length of stillness can take the place, then the counting is an aid towards freedom, rather than a discipline towards mechanization. A use of time¬-structure also frees the music into space, making the connection between the dance and the music one of individual autonomy connected at structural points. The result is the dance is free to act as it chooses, as is the music. The music does¬n't have to work itself to death to underline the dance, or the dance create havoc in trying to be as flashy as the music.
For me, it seems enough that dancing is a spiritual exercise in physical form, and that what is seen, is what it is. And I do not believe it is possible to be "too simple." What the dancer does is the most realistic of all possible things, and to pretend that a man standing on a hill could be doing everything except just standing is simple divorce-divorce from life, from the sun coming up and going down, from clouds in front of the sun, from the rain that comes from the clouds and sends you into the drugstore for a cup of coffee, from each thing that succeeds each thing. Dancing is a visible action of life.

Merce Cunningham

Four Events That Have Led to Large Discoveries, 1994

During the course of working in dance, there have been four events that have led to large discoveries in my work.
The first came with my initial work with John Cage, early solos, when we began to separate the music and the dance. This was in the late forties. Using at that time what Cage called a "rhythmic structure"-the time lengths that were agreed upon as beginning and ending structure points between the music and the dance¬ - we worked separately on the choreography and the musical composition. This allowed the music and the dance to have an independence between the struc¬ture points. From the beginning, working in this manner gave me a feeling of freedom for the dance, not a dependence upon the note-by-note procedure with which I had been used to working. I had a clear sense of both clarity and interdependence between the dance and the music.
The second event was when I began to use chance operations in the choreography, in the fifties. My use of chance procedures is related explicitly to the choreography. I have utilized a number of different chance operations, but in principle it involves working out a large number of dance phrases, each separately, then applying chance to discover the continuity-what phrase follows what phrase, how time-wise and rhythmically the particular movement operates, how many and which dancers might be involved with it, and where it is in the space and how divided. It led, and continues to lead, to new discoveries as to how to get from one movement to the next, presenting almost constantly situations in which the imagination is challenged. I continue to utilize chance operations in my work, finding with each dance new ways of experiencing it.
The third event happened in the seventies with the work we have done with video and film. Camera space presented a challenge. It has clear limits, but it also gives opportunities of working with dance that are not available on the stage. The camera takes a fixed view, but it can be moved. There is the possibility of cutting to a second camera which can change the size of the dancer, which, to my eye, also affects the time, the rhythm of the movement. It also can show dance in a way not always possible on the stage: that is, the use of detail which in the broad context of theater does not appear. Working with video and film also gave me the opportunity to rethink certain technical elements. For example, the speed with which one catches an image on the television made me introduce into our class work different elements concerned with tempos which added a new dimension to our general class work behavior.
The fourth event is the most recent. For the past five years, I have had the use of a dance computer, Life Forms, realized in a joint venture between the Dance and Science departments of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. One of its uses is as a memory device: that is, a teacher could put into the memory of the computer exercises that are given in class, and these could be looked at by students for clarification. I have a small number of particular exercises we utilize in our class work already in the memory. But my main interest is, as always, in discovery. With the figure, called the Sequence Editor, one can make up movements, put them in the memory, eventually have a phrase of move¬ment. This can be examined from any angle, including overhead, certainly a boon for working with dance and camera. Furthermore, it presents possibilities which were always there, as with photos, which often catch a figure in a shape our eye had never seen. On the computer the timing can be changed to see in slow motion how the body changes from one shape to another. Obviously, it can produce shapes and transitions that are not available on humans, but as happened first with the rhythmic structure, then with the use of chance operations, followed by the use of the camera on film and video and now with the dance computer, I am aware once more of new possibilities with which to work
My work has always been in process. Finishing a dance has left me with the idea, often slim in the beginning, for the next one. In that way, I do not think of each dance as an object, rather a short stop on the way.

Modern Dance History

Modern Dance History
European Perspective

Brief History:
Although often considered an American phenomenon, the evolution of modern dance can also be traced to Central Europe and Germany where the most influential person was probably Rudolf von Laban He is generally acknowledged as the founder of modern dance theory. His great contribution lay in developing a systematic analysis of human movement in time and space that lead to a coherent system of dance notation known as kinetography or Labanotation. He championed Dance Movement Therapy and formulated theories on educational dance and studies of time and motion in relation to industrial production.
Although there is almost no documentation to describe his choreography, he founded (1910) a school in Munich. Exiled in the 1930s, he emigrated to England where he established (1946) the Art of Movement Studio in Manchester. Laban worked until his death on his system of notation.
One of Laban's most celebrated students and associates was MARY WIGMAN. She enjoyed fame as a choreographer and performer in the period between the two World Wars. She began studying dance under Rudolf Laban in 1913. Mary Wigman wanted to establish the independence of dance as an art form and began by divorcing dance from its dependence on music. Her work had great expressive force. After studying with Laban Wigman performed in Germany and opened her own school in Dresden (1920). She became the most influential German exponent of expressive movement and toured extensively. Her school was closed by the Nazis but she reopened it in Berlin in 1948.
HANYA HOLM was a student of Mary Wigman and a teacher at the Wigman School in Dresden. In 1931 Holm founded the New York School of Dance. She introduced the Wigman technique to American modern dance, as well as Laban's theories. She was herself an accomplished choreographer. Her dance work "Metropolitan Daily" was the first modern dance composition to be copyrighted in the United States. Holm choreographed extensively in the fields of concert dance and musical theatre.
KURT JOOSS was also part of this Central European dance movement and formed together with SIGRID LEEDER, the Ballets Jooss. "The Green Table" (1932) was an Expressionist vision of the horrors of war which contained a famous scene of masked diplomats negotiating round the Green Table. He abandoned straight storytelling in favour of a variety of themes loosely interconnected. Like Laban he had to flee Hiltlers Germany.

L = Left side
C = Centerlinie
R = Right side
1 = Support column
2 = Leg gesture column
3 = Body column
4 = Arm column
5 = Head column

There are nine horizontal direction symbols derived from the rectangle.
P = Place
F = Forward
B = Backward
L = Left
R = Right
LF = Left forward
RF = Right forward
LB = Left backward
RB = Right backward

Labanotation figures

Mary Wigman’s Philosophy about dance:

LIKE THE BEST OF THE GERMAN EXPRESSIONIST PAINTERS, many German modern dancers realized that feelings could not be communicated to other people simply through emotional outpouring. The dancers and the painters alike believed that art is most powerful when form and content are inseparably joined.

Scores of dance lovers of the 192O’s and early 193O’s considered the works of Mary Wigman to be among the most memorable examples of such a union. Wigman loved to say, "Without ecstasy there is no dance. Without form there is no dance." For Wigman, form was not merely a container for ecstasy (or for any other passion or idea), but its very embodiment, and her ability to externalize feelings made her one of the greatest choreographers of the twentieth century.

Often expressionistic, her works ranged from gentle dances of nature to the macabre. She believed that “art grows out of the basic cause of existence. "

Characteristics of Wigman’s work:

Several aspects of Wigman's productions prompted comment. One was her use-or nonuse-of music. Some of her dances were performed in silence. Others did have music. But to assert the autonomy of dance as an art, Wigman's accompaniments were composed by musicians along with the choreography or entirely after the choreography had been created. Her scores were often spare and were intended to be of no artistic interest apart from the dances for which they were written. They also made extensive use of percussion instruments. For her 1931 American tour, Wigman brought over two Hungarian flutes, an assortment of drums, five Chinese gongs, one set of Indian bells, and a pair of cymbals. The rhythms of such instruments helped call attention to or intensify the choreographic rhythms.

Wigman sometimes danced wearing masks, not merely to look fantastic or bizarre, but in an attempt to escape from or transcend her ordinary self. She made a subtle distinction between makeup and masks: "Makeup gives the dancer's features a second skin and plays along with his finest and most detailed facial expressions. Not so the rigidity of the mask. It preserves its clearly defined contours, its sculptural shape. It gives the dancer a second face, it characterizes and typifies, but can never be exploited psychologically."

Possibly as a result of her training with Laban, Wigman possessed a remarkable awareness of space. She viewed the stage not as a floor to cross, but as a three-dimensional entity with which she could have emotional as well as physical relationships. Hanya Holm, one of her pupils who became a distinguished choreographer and teacher in her own right, has remarked that in Wigman's dances "she alternately grapples with space as an opponent and caresses it as though it were a living, sentient thing."

Hanya Holm (3 March 1893, Worms, Germany – 3 November 1992, New York City) was the professional name of Johanna Eckert, dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Holm was one of the pioneers of modern dance.
Born in Worms, Germany, Holms was a student and assistant of Mary Wigman and instructor at the Wigman School in Dresden. Holm founded the New York Wigman School of Dance in 1931 (which became the Hanya Holm Studio in 1936) introducing the Wigman technique, Laban's theories of spatial dynamics, and later her own dance techniques to American modern dance. After 1974, she taught dance at the Juilliard School in New York.
An accomplished choreographer she was a founding artist of the first American Dance Festival in Bennington (1934). Holm's dance work Metropolitan Daily was the first modern dance composition to be televised on NBC, and her labanotation score for Kiss Me, Kate (1948) was the first choreography to be copyrighted in the United States. She also worked on My Fair Lady (1956), Camelot (1960), and Anya (1965). Holm choreographed extensively in the fields of concert dance and musical theatre.
Her students included Glen Tetley, Alwin Nikolais, and Alvin Ailey.

About her work:

Holm was a petite person with fair skin and blonde hair. There was a distinct delicacy and an expressive lyricism in her dancing. She developed an impressive fleetness and strikingly quick footwork. What also distinguished Holm's dancing was her intimate relationship with music, which strongly motivated her.

Her lecture-demonstrations, which explored the space and tension on which her teaching was based, were almost dreamlike in their lyric molding of space and mood. The distinctive movement of her students had a light and lyric air. Holm knew how to fuse her principles of the old world with the vitality, the energy, the swift spirit of the American dancers.
When she created for the concert stage, her dances were emotional responses to life