Hi Bebounce,<BR>I'll try to answer your questions although there are many experts here who can probably add to mine:<P>Dunham Technique fuses modern, African, Haitian/Carribean & sometimes ballet dance. The technique was formed by Katherine Dunham (still alive today) who was an anthropologist that studied voudo and dance in Haiti. Upon her return to the US, she formed a company & a school. It was one of the first companies where African Americans could dance professionally. At the school many facets of dance were taught including ballet, jazz, African dance, acting, Haitian/Carribean dance & many other styles. Dunham in her younger years was actually a ballet dancer although she was rejected because of racial prejudice & sterotypes about bodies. Anyway the actual technique features many elements of African & Haitian dance although it is very much her own technique. Dunham technique is full of contractions, low squatting movements that are rooted very deeply in the hips and lower to the ground as opposed to the elevation in classical ballet. Many would call her choreography "ritualistic" being rooted very deeply in the spiritual/mythological content that originates from her studies abroad.There are also elements of Chicago Club Dance (a type of dance that was going on during Dunham's time in Chicago, she attended the University of Chicago). I personally have found studying Dunham technique to be one of the most grueling workouts physically (but in the good kind of way!) and also very beautiful!!!Dunham appeared in a lot of movies during the 1940s era so perhaps you could look into them to see some of her dancing? I must warn you that the films are probably not at all politically correct and therefore offensive; however, they do offer an early view of Dunham & her choreography. Dance Magazine featured Dunham on the cover in the past year or so and there has been a lot of press written about her lately due to some new Dunham Center that is being built in NY I think. So be sure to search the Dance Magazine archives for more info. about Dunham.<P>Now we move on to Cunningham:<BR>Merce Cunningham was a dancer with Martha Graham before he went on to choreograph his own works and form a company (he formed his own company in the late 50s). Cunningham is said to have merged Martha Graham's spine with Balanchine's feet.
I enjoy that description. In other words, his background in Graham technique is not totally invisible. His technique uses quite a bit of balletic extensions, balance, & jumps. In other words..no floppy feet here!
However the upper body is not always as rigid as it is in ballet. There are contractions & other movements that stray from ballet. I always feel like the legs & feet of Cunningham dancers could pretty much just as easily be ballet dancers so that shows you that a background in ballet is a definte plus with Cunningham technique. At least I have found that to be true. Cunningham's choreography is a whole other ball game and my post would be 10 miles long if I tried to write it here but if you're interested let me know
<P>Now for Alexander Technique-<BR> "The Alexander technique is a way of learning how you can get rid of harmful tension in your body."* Although certainly not<BR> a full definition of the Alexander Technique, this is a good start. I think you'll notice when you do more research on Alexander technique that it is quite different from the other techniques you've mentioned. For one it is not the type of movement that one studies in order to perform. Alexander technique is a fresh way of looking at any sort of movement and doing it so that the body can funtion better, without stress. Many dance therapists are interested in it. Many non dancers are interested in it as are dancers, actors & musicians. I would call it smart movement.<BR> Now from the Alexander Technique website:<P> "The Alexander Technique is a method that works to change (movement) habits in our everyday activities. It is a simple and<BR> practical method for improving ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination. The technique teaches the<BR> use of the appropriate amount of effort for a particular activity, giving you more energy for all your activities. It is not a series of treatments or exercises, but rather a reeducation of the mind and body. The Alexander Technique is a method which helps a person discover a new balance in the body by releasing unnecessary tension. It can be applied to sitting, lying down, standing, walking, lifting, and other daily activities..." <BR> <BR>Well this was a challenging question because you asked about such distinctly different things. I could elaborate futher but my post it way too long anyway. Please exscuse me for that!
If you are interested in further information don't hesitate to ask. I apologize for my inarticulate language but I got a little excited trying to answer about all three techniques!
<BR> <P>------------------<BR>The dignity of dance lies in the most noble of instruments, the living bodies of men and women.<BR>~Mary Wigman~<BR>