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Graham, Martha,1894–1991, American dancer, choreographer, and teacher, b. Pittsburgh. Her family moved from Allegheny, Pa., to Santa Barbara, Calif., when she was 14. After 1916, Graham attended the Denishawn School, Los Angeles; in 1920 she made her debut in Ted ShawnShawn, Ted
(Edwin Myers Shawn), 1891–1972, American modern dancer and choreographer, b. Kansas City, Mo. Introduced to dance as physical therapy, he taught ballroom dancing, then married (1914) the dancer Ruth St. Denis.
..... Click the link for more information. 's Xochitl, which was created for her. She left the Denishawn company in 1923 to dance in musical revues and to make her independent debut (1926). Graham first appeared with her own group of dancers in 1929, began her tours after 1939, and became, according to many critics, the seminal figure in modern dancemodern dance,
serious theatrical dance forms that are distinct from both ballet and the show dancing of the musical comedy or variety stage. The Beginnings of Modern Dance
Developed in the 20th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. . Her choreography, which requires great discipline and flexibility to perform, is highly individual, stark, and angular. Her dances became more explosive and less abstract in the late 1930s and early 1940s, as she achieved her mature style.
Graham's dances often draw upon historical and mythological subjects. After World War II, she created works based increasingly on Freudian and Jungian themes and centered on the female figure. Her works include Primitive Mysteries (1931), Letter to the World (1940), Deaths and Entrances (1943), Appalachian Spring (1944), Cave of the Heart (1946), Seraphic Dialogue (1955), Phaedra (1962), and Archaic Hours (1969), created the year she retired from dancing. Because so many of her students themselves became choreographers and leaders of companies, her influence on modern dance is especially widespread. Her own troupe, the oldest dance company in the United States, faced problems a decade after her death. Internecine struggles caused the closure (2000–2002) of the Martha Graham Dance Center, but a legal decision in late 2002 allowed the company to regroup, and they began to perform her dances again in early 2003.
See her Notebooks (1973) and her autobiography, Blood Memory (1991); R. Tracy, ed., Goddess: Martha Graham's Dancers Remember (1996); biographies by D. McDonagh (1973) and A. de Mille (1991); E. Stodelle, Deep Song (1984); M. Franko, Martha Graham in Love and War (2012).
Born May 11, 1893, in Pittsburgh, Pa. American dancer and choreographer. Honorary Doctor of the Arts from Harvard University (1966).
From 1918 to 1923, Graham studied at the school of R. St. Denis and T. Shawn and danced in their company. Between 1926 and 1930 she appeared as a concert soloist. In the 1930’s she organized the Martha Graham Dance Company. Graham is one of the most talented exponents of the modern dance, which is most popular in the United States. She developed her own style of rhythmic plastic dance, distinguished by expressiveness and stage effectiveness. Graham has many followers. From the end of the 1940’s through the 1960’s her repertoire included the following productions: Barber’s Cave of the Heart (1947), W. Schuman’s Night Journey (1947), and Starer’s Phaedra (1962). The most eminent American composers wrote music for Graham, and her productions were designed by leading American artists. Her company, with which she danced until 1971, often toured Europe and Asia.
REFERENCESMartha Graham: Essays on the Dance of Martha Graham Los Angeles, 1937.
Leatherman, R. Martha Graham, Portrait of the Lady as an Artist. New York, 1966.
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