Martha Graham

Martha graham is considered to be the mother of modern dance.  She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 11, 1894.  She was inspired by her father, who was a doctor, because he used physical movement to treat nervous disorders.

In the 1910s, her family moved to California.  When she was 17, she traveled to Los Angeles to see Ruth St. Denis perform at the Mason Opera House. After the show, she begged and begged her parents to allow her to study dance.  They always said nothough, because they were very strong Presbyterians.  

Even though  her parents didnt want her dancing, she was still inspired so she enrolled in an arts-oriented junior college.  After her father died, she enrolled to the newly opened dance company that Ruth St. Denis and her husband Ted Shawn opened.  It was named the Denishawn School of dancing and Related Arts.  she spent more than 8 years dancing, both as an instructor and student.

Ted Shawn specifically choregraphed a dance for Graham, who performed the role of an attacked Aztec Maiden.   Graham later left the Denishawn in 1923 to take a job with Greenwich village Follies.  Later she left Follies to brighten her career.  She took teaching roles  at the Eastman School of Music and Theater in Rochester, New York, and the John Murray Anderson School in New York City to support herself.  

  • in 1926, she creatd the Martha Graham Dance Company.  Programs were stylistically similar to those of her teachers, but she quickly found her artistic voice and began conducting  experiments in dance.

The musician Louis Horst came on as the company’s musical director and stayed with Graham for nearly her entire career. Some of Graham’s most impressive and famous works include “Frontier,” “Appalachian Spring,” “Seraphic Dialogue” and “Lamentation.”

Graham continued to dance into her 60s and choreographed until her death on April 1, 1991, leaving behind a legacy of inspiration not only for dancers but for artists of all kind.

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