American Modern Dancers Essay - Critical Essays

Analysis

The primary organizational principle of American Modern Dancers is biographical. Maynard presents, in basically chronological order, the successive figures who pioneered the development of modern dance in the United States. She concentrates on several key individuals: Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman. She presents an overview of their lives from childhood through a survey of the major steps in their careers. In each case, Maynard emphasizes formative influences and the basic and distinctive style or technique that characterizes their dance, and she explains their influential contributions to American modern dance.

Maynard introduces others who had an impact on modern dance in the United States. Many of these individuals were from Europe, and the author demonstrates the interrelationships between the theories and practice of modern dance in Europe and the United States. Examples include the nineteenth century theorists Delsarte and Dalcroze and the German school of modern dance. Maynard does not provide extensive biographical information about these individuals; rather, she integrates key aspects of their life and work into the context of their contributions, both direct and indirect, to American modern dance.

Another facet of American modern dance that emerges in conjunction with the author’s essentially biographical approach is the role of dance in American education,...

(The entire section is 569 words.)