In the beginning of the 20th century, dancers in Europe and America founded an alternative to classical ballet. It was originally developed both as a “sister genre” with a lot of the elements lent from classical ballet, but at the same time it was a contradiction. Where the classical ballet was filled with strict rules, control, precision, and girls breaking their feet when going “en pointe”, modern was just as challenging in its own way. The modern dance was more focused on self-expression, rather than the perfection of technique.
The idea of a freer kind of dance, with newer music and movements inspired by exotic sources, was to talk more to the audience. There are no rules to the modern dance, which means the choreographers are of course less limited, and allowed to express emotions through steps and movements that people in the early 1900s considered inappropriate.
In the 1930s under the Great Depression, the modern dancers used the misery, as an inspiration to their shows. The feelings they expressed was something the audience could relate to, and in those days the modern dance was mentioned and accepted.
But people forget easily, and after the economic crisis had passed the dancers and the shows were almost as invisible as before. It wasn’t before the seventies the modern dance was established in the same way as classical, with institutions and schools offering classes. And for the first time the modern dance was performed in the western world on real stages!
This was the beginning of the modern genre as we know it. Now there are modern companies with their own theaters and small scenes, and it is fully a part of the dance culture. But still, at least in Denmark, the government don’t bless the modern scenes with the same amount of financial aid as the classical ballet theaters, but it’s going in the right direction. Actually we find it very hard thinking that it is no more than 100 years ago this genre was just an underground entertainment for a few rebellious dancers.