Modern Dance

A Look at How Today's Iconic Style Came to Be

A Brief History

A number of choreographers and dancers in the turn of the 20th century were tired of being seen as just entertainers. They decided to rebel against the strict, rigid nature of ballet, and created a new kind of dance to be taken seriously as artists. Not only was the fluidity and technique of the dance changed, but the tight corsets and tutus were replaced with flawy fabric that really showcased what the body could do. Thus, modern dance was born.

Merce Cunningham


Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) is considered one of the most important choreographers of our time. He started his career at the age of twenty with a 6 year tenure in the Martha Gram Dance Company. In 1953, he created the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, where he trained many dancers who went along to create their own dance companies. He experimented quite a bit with dance on film and created iconic choreography using computer programs as well as exploring Motion Capture Technology with BIPED. This led to a program he called "Mondays with Merce" which showed insight on the company and Merce's teaching techniques. His death in 2009 was truly a sad day.

Works Created

Merce Cunningham choreographed over 200 pieces throughout his 70 year career, and the full list can be found on but the some of his major ones are CRWDSPCR, Ocean, Quartet, Antic Meet, and Variations.

Variations V (1966) - Merce Cunningham Dance Company
CRWDSPCR (2008) - Merce Cunningham Dance Company