Modern dance is the term used for the 20th-century theatrical dance movement. The movement was started by American dancer Isadora Duncan in a rebellion against ballet, which she felt was too constricting. .
Duncan based her dance technique and style on the Greeks. She identified with their ideals of human form and beauty. Although her way of dance was originally met with strong opposition, her ideas later came into wide favor.
Another influential person in the world of modern dance was Merce Cunningham. Also American, Cunningham was a dancer and choreographer. He studied folk, tap, and ballroom dance in his youth, but after meeting the very avant-garde composer John Cage, began to create more modern dances. His and Duncan's dance style exhibited similarities in the seemingly improvisational aspect of their techniques.
Alvin Ailey was another dancer-choreographer with a great impact on modern dance. Founder of the internationally renowned Alvin Alley Dance Theater, his beginnings in dance came from the Lester Horton Dance Theater. From 1949 to 1954, he was involved with the company. Horton died in 1953, and Ailey rose to director of the company. After a few years of doing various stage productions, he formed his own company in 1958. His style is a unique combination of jazz, ballet, ethnic, and modern dance. He received the Capezio Award in 1979 for his contribution to dance.
Pina Bausch was an unconventional German actress, dancer, choreographer, and director of the Tanztheater Wuppertal, a dance theater in Wuppertal, Germany. She used a unique combination of modern and interpretive dance to express relationships between men and women.
As result of these and other dancer-choreographers" contributions to it, modern dance has become a distinguished and celebrated art that is seen in theater, live performances, and even some movies.