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Erick Hawkins Research Papers

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Modern dance originated in the twentieth century, with its roots firmly established in both Germany and the United States. Modern dance differs somewhat from other dance forms in that it is somewhat iconoclastic and experimental in form. Early pioneers in modern dance include

  • Erick Hawkins Isadora Duncan
  • Loie Fuller
  • Ruth St. Denis
  • Rudolf von Laban
  • Mary Wigman

Although each of these contributed greatly to the development, beauty, and creativity of modern dance, none aspired to the level of heights as Erick Hawkins in terms of imaginative and innovative production techniques.


Hawkins' Choreography

It is believed that the choreography styles of Hawkins was influenced by his travels through New Mexico and Arizona where he sought out the dance ceremonies of the Native Americans. Hawkins himself cited the reason for the trip as one to settle his own doubts about perusing a career that the world viewed as questionable for men. All of his doubts were erased however when he witnessed the Native American men dancing both as a form of worship and as a way of celebrating their own existence. Hawkins returned to New York where he studied at the School of American Ballet from 1934 until 1938 where he gained experience in both dancing and teaching. During this time, Hawkins choreographed as a member of the Ballet Caravan Company, and also met Martha Graham whose work inspired him to mix his own dance with the aspects of American spirit he saw in her work. Hawkins became Martha Graham's first male dancer during their association, and performed a solo in American Document. From there Hawkins went on to create celebrated roles in the following

  • Appalachian Spring
  • El Penitente
  • Dark Meadow
  • Deaths and Entrances
  • Night Journey


"True Dance Radical"

Hawkins is hailed as a "true dance radical" and a true pioneer of modern dance due to his development of new techniques and his original choreography. During his lifetime, Hawkins was motivated by a number of individuals and events that inspired him both personally and professionally. To fully understand how his unique technique developed and blossomed, a review of his life and those who touched him in ways that inspired his creative genius is given below.

Erick Hawkins was born in Trinidad, Colorado, in 1909.  Although his family moved to Missouri during his childhood, they returned to the Colorado Mountains often for vacation, the source perhaps, of Hawkins visual and artistic references to the natural world.  He received a scholarship to study at Harvard while in high school. At Harvard, Hawkins majored in the classics. During his senior year, he attended a performance in New York City where Harald Kreuzberz was performing. Hawkins was so moved by this performance that he participated in a dance workshop with Kreuzberg in Austria after finishing his studies at Harvard. After the workshop was complete, he moved to New York where he continued his formal dance training.


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