answer a questions : Fountain Essays

Second Generation Pioneers

Post Modern Dance and Choreographers

Modern Dance in the 70s, 80s, and 90s

The Second Generation of Pioneers in Modern Dance truly took what Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn started, and popularized the form of dance. The world was becoming much more aware of modern dance through these artists, which includes Martha Graham.

We will look at the works of Pearl Primus, Alvin Ailey and Paul Taylor in the world of 2ndgeneration modern dance pioneers. Please refer to the attached Prezi for some important bullet points on these artists.

  1. Pearl Primus- brief video

  1. Primus: Hard Time Blues

Alvin Ailey truly popularized modern dance through his use of classic movement with a modern bent based on the Lester Horton technique, and his use of iconic images. The dancers in his company are extraordinarily athletic and trained.

Alvin Ailey: Beyond the Steps – 2 brief excerpts from an Ailey documentary

  3. A few brief excerpts from Alvin Ailey Classics:

Paul Taylor

Esplanade Part 1/5, you are welcome to view the whole piece if you are interested, you can find the other parts in the sidebar alongside this clip. Notice how the dancers really use the space in this piece, Paul Taylor was known for his patterns and wonderful use of space.



Anna Halpin and Yvonne Rainier: Judson Church

Please view the video on this page, and read the brief text.


Merce Cunningham- legendary Post-Modern choreographer

NY TIMES the legacy of Cunningham: please watch this brief video on Merce Cunningham


Mondays with Merce: Cage, Johns- please view this brief video with an interview with Merce Cunningham- this is a must watch before viewing the excerpt of his piece below, Walkaround Time


Cunningham’s Walkaround Time:


Cunningham’s Second Hand:


Modern Dance in the 70s, 80s, and 90s

Twyla Tharp:

Tharp: Hair – her work on the film of the musical, Hair- she was lauded for infusing mostly pedestrian and gestural movement into a modern dance sensibility


Tharp: Push Comes to Shove- Baryshnikov dances this Twyla Tharp piece which really puts her on the map.


Tharp: In the Upper Room: Twyla uses Philip Glass music with an interesting scenic element including a back curtain and opening that was recessed so that it was not visible to the eye, she used fog to give the impression that the dancers were floating and appearing out of nowhere. They are wearing sneakers and pajama-like costumes, which is a big departure from anything that modern dancers were doing .


Mark Morris – one of the great modern dance artists of our time, his primary artistic drive comes from choreographing works to great classical music pieces- he has been called the Mozart of Modern Dance. He aims to make the music visual.

One of Mark Morris’ most famous works: L’Allegro


Mark Morris’ V- short excerpt:


Bill T. Jones is a modern dance artist working with many different ideas and subject matter, in his piece, Still/Here, he workshops and works with patients that are terminally ill to develop his piece about living with illness.

Journal Entries

  1. Choose one work from a Second Generation Modern dance pioneer (Paul Taylor or Alvin Ailey) and compare it with the work of Merce Cunningham. What is similar, what is different?
  2. How does Twyla Tharp’s work compare to Mark Morris’, how do they use the music to highlight, accentuate (or NOT ) their work.
  3. Describe one thing that really spoke to you out of all the pieces we have viewed in this week’s assignments and why.

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