The Modern Dance form evolved during the early 20th century. The term Modern Dance sometimes also refers to the 20th century ballroom dance, but it is usually referred to the 20th century concert dance.
There were two important developments that helped in founding what is now known as Modern Dance. The first was the natural expression which was developed by the French Actor Francois Delsarte and the second was known as Eurhythmics. It is a system which is used to teach musical rhythms with the help of body movements. This system was created by music educator Emile Jacques Dalcroze. During the 1920s, the newspapers began to criticize the dancers such as Walter Terry and Edwin Denby who used to perform with a view of movement specialist rather than a reviewer of music.
Later, as education spread, so did the Modern Dance form. It was integrated into the curricula of various schools and universities, first as physical education then as a performing art form. The Benington Summer School of the Dance was established in 1934 which acted as a training institute for many college teachers.
The modern dancers always wanted to give their dance form a more powerful communication system. They therefore always looked beyond what was the traditional Western Theatrical Dance (Ballet). During this same peiod (early 1900s), some choreographers of ballet were also looking for similar dance forms.
For example, Isadora Duncan used the Greek sculptures for drawing inspiration and used to dance in bare feet with the help of a simple tune.
Next came Ruth St. Denis who turned to Asian dance styles as a basis and in 1915 she formed Denishawn, which was a dance company. This training school used to train dancers in various style of dance. Later during the 1930, New York saw the emergence of what is known as the second wave of the modern dancers. This wave included Americans Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman among others.
Also, during this period the various choreographers used to describe ballet and modern dance as separate which resulted in opposition to one another. Both these dance types' focus was their traditions. While the founders of this form of dance continued their work, which was largely based on myths and legends, the students of these choreographers saw this form of dance as a potential form of change.
The legacy of the Modern Dance has been carried on right from its inception. It can be seen even today. Many Modern Dance artists share a common heritage that can be located right back to the free dance era. On one hand the postmodern dance was a direct opposition to the Modern Dance, the contemporary dance uses both the modern and postmodern dance forms as its source of inspiration.