Jean Erdman (born 20 February 1916) is a dancer and choreographer of modern dance as well as an avant-garde theater director.
Erdman was born on February 20, 1916 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her father, John Piney Erdman, a doctor of divinity and missionary from New England, settled in Honolulu as a minister at the non-denominational Protestant Church of the Crossroads where he preached, in both English and Japanese, to a multi-ethnic congregation. Her mother, Marion Dillingham Erdman was a member of one of the founding industrialist families of Hawaii. She enjoyed singing, often songs composed by Hawaiian composers, and with her husband, performing in amateur theatrical productions.
Erdman's earliest dance experience was of the hula, the indigenous Hawaiian dance whose lyrical swaying hip movements and hand gestures combine to create a polyrhythmic style that is both narrative and abstract. She attended the Punahou School in Honolulu where she learned, as a form of physical education, Isadora Duncan interpretive dance. Reflecting on her early dance training Erdman said these two influences taught her that dancing is an "expression of something meaningful to the dancer, not a mere series