Have we formed a fair language to describe what dance is, as opposed to its development some odd years ago when it was broadening a voice outside of ballet and formal cultural styles? Are there current mores to follow when it comes to our dance terminology? Many times I dismiss the term “modern” dance and just say I am a dancer. This is because I am somewhat wary of what immediately enters the mind of most of the American public when I say I am a modern dancer.
The dances done by most post-modern gurus were just the beginning of modern dance. Isadora Duncan who flung her body around like a western angel on California beaches and Nancy Stark Smith who developed contact improvisation were pivotal in dance history. Although, some people just see this radical era and this choreography as “weird”; watching people roll around on the floor is something that needed to occur to expand the meaning of dance, but modern dance does not include only this radical movement. The term “modern” includes everything outside of stylized and cultural dance forms. Thus, our associations are unfair as they commonly leap to the floppy and intangible forms outside of beautiful and accepted formal styles and not to the present era in dance, always developing and broadening itself.
Can we give modern dance a new term, please? The dance world has just begun to define itself through many different choreographers who work to describe themselves under the old “modern dance” blanket. New artists then deal with false associations, because of how modern dance began. I do not think it is the choreographers’ job to “challenge” or “re-define” this old term. We already have enough to do, thank you very much. We just need a new word!
Maybe we should just call it the “Good Dance” movement. Check out the work that’s being done now. ODC, Sarah Michelson, Joe Goode, Mark Morris, RAW dance, Spike Jonze, Justin Timberlake, Pina Bausch, Robert Moses, Lisa Wymore and Sheldon Smith… you name it, dance is way more developed and perhaps “better” than it once was and needs a a fresh name.