Social Life

                                                                                                        ...dancing throughout the 1920's

            Everything began to change when America became involved in World War I.  Society as people knew it was completely transformed, and the transformation made a vast impact in dance. 

            Most young men went to war leaving behind an entire generation of young females.  However, when all of the suitable men left, there was a change in attitude for most women.  Women began to feel that they could do anything a man could, even smoking and drinking.

            The smoking and drinking habits belonged to a certain group of females, the flappers.  These women were reckless, fast living, and loved to dance.

            The Jazz Age of the 1920ís helped flappers enjoy their favorite pastime.  The lively, upbeat music helped create new dances, such as the Fox Trot, the Black Bottom, and the Shimmy.  The older generation marked these dances as wild and outrageous, but the dances seemed to characterize the fast-paced lifestyles of the younger generation. 

            The popular dance, Charleston, was done by bending and straightening the knees and combined with outward heel kicks to create an up and down movement.  The movement could possess a bounce or could be moved in a half circle.  The Charleston was danced in a 4/4 syncopated rhythm of ragtime.  

            Flappers did not always just dance for fun, as dancing soon became a competition.  Prizes, money, and glory went to the winner of the frequent dance marathons that took place in 1920.  Dance marathons were the main event of the weekend, as most young people attended them.  They were held in cities all over the United States with different rules for each one.  The marathon consisted of an emcee, a band, a nurse, a doctor, a few cots, a dance floor, contestants, barbers, manicurists and even a podiatrist.  After a while, Dance marathons were outlawed in most states due to the unhealthy condition they would put the contestants in.  Few contestants even died while participating in the dance marathons. 

There was a lot of social dancing going on around the world, but you cannot overlook the changed being made in modern dancing.  Martha Graham started dancing with Denishawn school of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn in the 1920ís.  Grahamís teachers had a strong influence in the way she thought about dance.  The 1920ís style of dance was too classical for Graham.

Martha Grahamís influence on tradition ballet carried into the 1930ís and dance become a theatre art, as it was symbolic, abstract, and mostly non-verbal.  She is considered a pioneer is modern dancing and made modern dance popular.    

            While Graham is still around, dance marathons and flappers faded out of society.  However, the changes they made for women held strong into the 1930ís.  The corset was no longer worn as women needed lighter clothing for dancing.  Dancing was changed for good in both the social and theatrical worlds.  Invention of dance and a new way of thinking about dance was monumental for the art form.

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