Modern Dance was born at the beginning of the twentieth century out of the need to recreate dance, to tear it away from the formal, stifling rigor of ballet, as well as from the image of other forms of dance as light-weight, sordid entertainment. One of the first dance artists associated with the movement was Isadora Duncan, whose insistence on dance as self-expression and high art paved the way for the more sustained schools of Mary Wigman, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and the Denishawn dance troupe. In Germany and the United States, these founders worked on movement systems which focused on the grounding of the body, natural dance, harmony, creative expression, and feeling. Their techniques continue to shape contemporary theatrical dance.
Brown, Jean Morrison, editor. The Vision of Modern Dance. London, Dance Books, 1980.