Guide to Modern Dance

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Chronology of Significant Events in Modern Dance Development
From Don McDonaghs Complete Guide to Modern Dance
1862 Loie Fuller, the first of the forerunners of modern dance is born in

the midst of the Civil War to a theatrical family.

1877 Ruth Dennis, who changed her name to St. Denis for the stage, is born on a farm in New Jersey.
1878 Across the continent, Isadora Duncan is born in San Francisco
1883 Maud Allen is born in Toronto, Canada, and is brought to San Francisco at an early age.
1884 Composer Louis Horst is born in Kansas City, Missouri.
1891 Edwin Meyers (Ted) Shawn is born in Kansas City, Missouri.
1894` In bustling Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Martha Graham is born the first of three daughters, two of whom make dancing a career.
1895 Doris Humphrey is born in Oak Park, Illinois.
1901 Charles Weidman is born in Indianapolis, Indiana.
1905 In New York, Helen Becker (Tamiris) is born.
1906 Lester Horon is born in Indianapolis, Indiana.
1908 José Limón is born in Mexico and is taken to the United States as a young child.
1912 Alwin Nikolais is born in Southington, Connecticut.
1914 Ruth St.Denis and Ted Shawn marry and form Denishawn, as school and company that is an amalgam of their names and talents.
1915 Anna Sokolow is born in New York.

1916 Martha Graham takes first dance instruction at Denishawn in Los Angeles. Louis Horst accompanies her first class.
1917 Margaret Hdoubler starts teaching dance in the physical education department of the University of Wisconsin.
1918 Doris Humphrey joins the Denishawn company.
1921 Charles Weidman joins Denishawn and is sent out to partner Martha Graham in her fist starring role of Xochitl.
1922 Denishawn enters into its most successful years in touring both at home and abroad for the rest of the decade.
1923 Martha Graham leaves Denishawn and joins the Greenwich Village Follies.
1926 The University of Wisconsin becomes the first college to have a degree program in dance at the bachelors and masters level.
Martha Graham forms her fist company and makes her performing debut in her own choreography.
1927 Isodora Duncan dies in the South of France.
John Martin appointed as the first dance critic of the New York Times.
Mary Watkins appoint first dance critic for the New York Herald-Tribune.
1928 Loie Fuller dies.
Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman leave Denishawn and form their own

company and establish a dance studio.

1929 Martha Graham presents her all-female dance group and creates Heritic, her first real work of special genius.
1930 José Limón joins the Humphrey-Weidman company and remains with it through the end of the decade.

Mary Wigman, German expressionist dancer, tours the United States for the

first time with her company.

Paul Taylor is born.
Anna Sokolow joins the Martha Graham company.
Dance Repertory Theater is formed by Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey,

Tamiris, and Charles Weidman to present a week of joint performances.

1931 Hanya Holm establishes Mary Wigman school, in New York.
Alvin Ailey is born in Rogers, Texas.,
1932 Martha Graham and her company appear on the opening program of

Radio City Music Hall.

Denishawn completes last tour and disbands.
Katherine Dunham establishes her school in Chicago.
1933 Ted Shawn organizes his all-mail company, Ted Shawn and His Men

John Martin publishes The Modern Dance.

1934 Bennington College Summer School of the Dance is established by Martha Hill and Mary Josephine Shelley at Bennington, Vermont. The faculty in the first year includes Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman.
Louis Horst founds Dance Observer to ensure modern dance a responsive

critical journal.

YM-YWHA at Ninety-second Street and Lexington Avenue in New York

offers dance instruction and a performing theater to modern dance at the

urging of director William Kolodney.

1936 Doris Humphrey completes her trilogy New Dance, Theater Piece, and With My Red Fires.
1937 Dance International Festival in New York included modern dancers, Ruth St. Denis, Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey, Tamiris, and Charles Weidman as well as ballet performers.
Marth Graham becomes the first dance to appear in the White House when

she gives a performance for the President and Mrs. Roosevelt.

Merle Armitage designs and edits a book of tributes to Martha Graham.
1939 First televised modern dance, Hanya Holms Tragic Exodus.
Bennington College Summer School of the Dance holds it session at Mills

College in Oakland, California. Martha Graham discovers Merce

Cunningham and invites him to join her company.
1940 Ted Shawn disbands his men dancers at the end of its tour.
1941 Ted Shawn founds Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival.
1942 Edwin Denby appointed dance critic of the New York Herald-Tribune and retains post until the end of World War II.
The distinguished Dance Index begins publication.
Bennington College Summer School of the Dance closes.
1944 Merce Cunningham creates Root of an Unfocus and later dates his choreographic emergence from this time.
Doris Humphrey retires from the stage because of an arthritic hip, pursues

her later career as choreographer, teacher, and artistic director of the José

Limón company.
Charles Weidman forms his own company.
Katherine Dunham forms touring company.

1946 Tamiris choreographs the musical Annie Get Your Gun.
José Limón forms his own company.
1947 Merce Cunningham choreographs and performs The Seasons with Ballet Society, the precursor of the New York City Ballet.
1948 Dance Collection of the New York Public Library established.
Establishment of the American Dance Festival at Connecticut College.
Charles Weidman creates Fables for Our Times.
Hanya Holm choreographs the musical Kiss Me, Kate.
Alwin Nikolais appointed director of Henry Street Settlement Playhouse.
1949 Bethsabee de Rothchild presents a series featuring modern dance companies at the New York City Center 55th Street Theater.
1951 Dance Associates founded by James Waring to present the work of experimental young choreographers.
1952 Juilliard School of Music establishes a dance department with the encouragement of its president, William Schuman.
Anna Halprin opens her experimental workshops in San Francisco.
1953 Merce Cunningham offers a full week of performances at the Off-Broadway Theater de Lys, his first entire weeks since founding his company.
Lester Horton dies.
1954 Paul Taylor forms his first company.
Doris Humphrey wins the Capezio Dance Award.
José Limóns company tours South America. The first modern dance

company to do so under the sponsorship of the State Department.

1955 Louis Horst wins the Capezio Dance Award.
1956 Maud Allan dies.
1957 Alvin Ailey forms his first company.
Ted Shawn wins the Capezio Dance Award.
1958 Doris Humphrey dies.
Martha Graham creates her first full evening work, Clytemnestra.
1959 Alwin Nikolais presents excerpts from his dances on NBC television. Eventually he works with the medium specifically designing dances made to be seen only on screen.
Doris Humphreys The Art of Making Dances is published.
Martha Graham choreographs Episodes in collaboration with George

Balanchine of the New York City Ballet.

1960 Martha Graham wins the Capezio Dance Award.
1961 The New York State Council of the Arts is founded.
Ruth St.Denis wins the Capezio Dance Award.
1962 Judson Dance Theater established at Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan to present the work of experimental choreographers. The first performance was given by graduates of musician Robert Dunns dance composition course.
1963 Donald McKayle wins the Capezio Dance Award.
Martha Graham undertakes major foreign tour, appears triumphantly

in London.

1964 Paul Taylor tours Europe.

Merce Cunningham tours Europe and Middle East
American Dance Theater formed under the artistic direction of José

Louis Horst dies.

José Limón wins the Capezio Dance Award.
1965 Twyla Tharp forms her own company.
National Foundation of the Arts and Humanities established in

Washington, D.C.

1966 Association of American Dance Companies formed.
Tamiris dies.
Twyla Tharp presents Re-Moves, her first dance of special achievement.
1967 Paul Taylor wins the Capezio Dance Award.
1968 Ruth St,Denis dies.
Festival of Dance featuring sixteen companies co-ordinated by

Charles Rienhart begins.

1969 Martha Graham retires from active performing.
John Martin wins Capezio Dance Award.
1970 An accelerating movement among companies to incorporate themselves as

non-profit corporations to receive public and private funding.

1972 José Limón dies.
Alvin Ailey establishes his company as resident modern dance company at

the New York City Center 55th Street Theater.

Ted Shawn dies.
1973 Martha Graham reorganizes her company after an absence of two years.
LePercq Space opened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for experimental

dance and drama productions in a nonproscenium area.

1974 Twyla Tharp choreographs As Time Goes By, her second work for the City Center Joffrey Ballet
1975 Martha Graham creates Lucifer, a work for international ballet stars Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev and her company
1975 Charles Weidman dies.

The book from which this information was taken was published in 1977. Much has happened since then, but this is an accurate recording of the beginnings through most of the twentieth century of the first, second, third and beginning of the fourth generation of modern dancers and other great contributors.

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