We say no — postmodern dance

  • Christy Adair
Part of the Women in Society Series List (ed CG) book series


The term used for dance which developed in the USA in the 1960s is ‘postmodern dance’. This label was first used to describe the work of The Judson Group whose work was regarded as both a progression from and reaction to modern dance. Between 1960 and 1973 in the USA there were a number of themes evident in postmodern dance of new uses of the body, time and space, and redefinitions of dance (Banes, 1987). There was a clear link between the political movements of, for example, black power, feminists, gays, students and anti-war protesters with some of the dance choreography between 1968 and 1973. After the early experimentations which Banes terms as ‘breakaway postmodern dance’, certain characteristics were associated with postmodern dance in the early 1970s. Functional clothing, silences, use of structural devices in choreography, a relaxed body and task-orientated movement are aspects of what Banes has termed ‘analytic postmodern dance’. At the same time, an interest in non-Western dance and spiritual motivations for dance is defined by Banes as the ‘metaphor and metaphysical’ strands of postmodern dance. However, defining postmodern dance stylistically is problematic as this leads to confusion because much of the early postmodern dance was closer to modernist style in its emphasis on purity of the medium, stripping the dance back to basics and evolving a recognisable style. As with the term ‘modern dance’ used in the 1920s ‘postmodern dance’ has become an umbrella term, the boundaries of which are still being defined. The work included in this chapter is the work of the 1960s and 1970s which was labelled postmodern dance.


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Copyright information

© Christy Adair 1992

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  • Christy Adair

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