Many early pioneer women in Utah through religious spirit taught and instilled in their children a love for the arts and a joy in participating in song and dance. It seems only natural that American modern dance would take artistic root in Utah soil and this new expression of dance movement would find its way into higher education. Today, the University of Utah Modern Dance Department is considered to be one of the outstanding schools for dance education in the nation. In addition, Utah's professional modern dance companies began their existence on the University of Utah campus.
Modern dance had gone by many names over the years but is essentially a form of dance expression which evolved from dancer's objections to the limitations imposed by classical ballet of the day; it is free from the limitations of a codified method of training. Modern dance is not a system; instead, it is a point of view, an art form that consciously communicates ideas, feelings, and emotions through movement. The first mention of dance in the University of Utah catalog is as part of a course offering of the Physical Education Department in the academic year 1906-07. Professor Maud May Babcock, director of gymnastics for women and assistant professor of elocution and physical culture, was generally credited for the introduction of dance into the program.