One liability of modern-dance-going is having to watch aging choreographers who are unwilling to accept that their dancing days are over. Martha Graham reluctantly retired from the stage when she was in her late seventies; Merce Cunningham is still putting in appearances at age sixty-seven. It is not mere vanity that keeps these choreographers clinging to their performing careers long after attaining senior-citizen status but the very nature of their art: unlike the classical ballet, the so-called modern dance is predicated upon the rejection of traditional, received vocabularies in favor of highly personalized systems of movement that spring from within the dancer-choreographer’s own body. The modern-dance choreographer is by definition the supreme exponent of his or her style; another dancer assuming the choreographer’s roles can at best be only a shadow of the original.

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