Because of the formidable technical demands, the ballet had ceased to be an accessible means of expression for many aspiring dancers. Furthermore, the traditional adherence to a classically defined vocabulary of movement served to impose limitations on the expressive possibilities of dance as a creative art form. While there is no evidence that GrahamĘs innovations were brought about as an intentional response to those limitations, she was simply not a classically trained dancer, her creative output did serve to create a powerful alternative to the ballet as the dominant form of artistic dance.
Like all great artists, Graham did not create in a cultural vacuum. Although the ballet had long been dominant, it was not the only genre of artistic dance. There were some important precursors to the modern dance movement Graham started. In the late 1800s Loie Fuller began to lay the basic ground work for a genre that would become modern dance by performing popular dances in a high art setting. She established two of the essential elements of modern dance: freedom of movement and the solo form (Bates, 1980, p. 1). Around the turn of the century Isadora Duncan created and performed dances that evoked cycles of nature such as ocean waves, trees swaying in the wind and the endless turning of the seasons. She built upon the foundations set by Fuller by emphasizing the personal, innermost emotions of the individual as legitimat