Modern dance arose in the early 20th century as an effort to break away from the strict rules of classical ballet. The early pioneers of modern dance—Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, and Martha Graham—wanted more freedom in both movement and ideas.
There is no one modern dance technique. Instead, modern choreographers explore various ways of moving. Martha Graham, for example, thought it was ridiculous for people to dance on their toes and to rotate their legs into the unnatural turned-out positions of ballet. Her dances were more grounded.
Often, but not always, modern dancers dance barefoot and make use of the whole torso. They are as likely to roll on the floor as leap in the air.
Killer of Enemies: The Divine Hero was commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and premiered in New York City in 1991. Choreographer Erick Hawkins (1909-1994) created the scenario and choreographed the work.
Hawkins began his career as a ballet dancer. He danced with George Balanchine’s American Ballet. IN 1938, he became the first man to dance with Martha Graham’s modern dance company and later founded his own company. As a choreographer, Hawkins’ important influences included the dances of the American Indians, Japanese aesthetics, and Zen thinking, as well as the Greek classics.