ABSTRACT

It is no longer true that American dance historians wntmg about early modern dance see American dance as entirely separate from and unconnected with early European modern dance. But it wasn't so long ago that they did. Writing in 1974 Selma Jeanne Cohen observed that Though American modern dance was a largely independent phenomenon, a similar - though distinct - form had risen in Central Europe' (1974: 122). The implication is that, although European dancers may have been doing something similar to their American contemporaries at about the same time, this was entirely coincidental, and each more or less developed in isolation from the other. Contrary to what Cohen suggests, the American and European modern dance worlds overlapped right from the start. The three earliest pioneers of modern dance were Americans - Fuller, Duncan and St Denis - but the first two were primarily based in Europe and St Denis achieved her first big success not in New York but in Munich. Deborah Jowitt, writing in 1988, may not mean to say that European and American modern dance developed simultaneously, but she gives that impression:

Duncan's premature death, at fifty, happened in 1927, the year in which Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey presented their first certifiably 'modern' dances in America. Mary Wigman, the leading force in Germany's Ausdrucktanz, had founded a school and company two years earlier.