A free, expressive style of dancing that started in the early 20th century as a reaction (or rebellion) to classical ballet. During the 1900’s, European dancers began rebelling against the rigid rules of classical ballet. Turning against the structured techniques, costumes and shoes of ballet, these dancers favored a more relaxed, free style of dancing. Modern dance pioneers often danced in bare feet.
In regards to movement, one important characteristic of modern dance in opposition to ballet is the deliberate use of gravity. Whereas classical ballet dancers strive to be light and airy on their feet, modern dancers often use their body weight to enhance movement. This type of dancer rejects the classical ballet stance of an upright, erect body, often opting instead for deliberate falls to the floor. Interestingly, ballet and modern compliment each other and when studied together, create a very versatile dancer.
In the United States, several dance pioneers paved the way for American modern dance, including the legendary Martha Graham.