MARTHA GRAHAM 1894-1991
Martha Graham was a modern dancer and choreographer, teaching and dancing for over 70 years. She changed the direction of dance in America and worked tirelessly to invent a new language of dance, one that could reveal the passion, the rage and the ecstasy that is part of the human experience.
Graham began her dance studies at the newly created Denishawn School of Dancing, founded by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn in California. Graham left Denishawn in 1923 wanting to make dances more grounded in the rawness of the human experience. In 1926, the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, the oldest school of dance in the United States, was established in a small studio on the Upper East Side of New York City. In the same year, she held her first independent performance consisting of 18 pieces she had choreographed. Graham's choreographies span 181 compositions.
She toured overseas with her company as a cultural ambassador and received the highest civilian award of the US: the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction.
Martha Graham created a new language of dance – one that was different from everything that preceded it and left everything that came after it indelibly changed.
Graham theatricalized body language, stripping away physical decoration. She experimented with the shape of the body and the physical gesture that revealed emotion. She recognized emotion rode on the breath and emanated from the center of the body, leading to the articulation of the torso and the fundamental principles in Graham of contraction and release, opposition, shift of weight, spiral, and leveraging against the floor. Her technique developed from the stage, drawn from her choreography to the classroom. Her unique dance vocabulary evolved over the years to meet her changing choreographic needs.
Under the direction of Miki Orihara, a Graham dancer and company member for 27 years, and the late Susan Kikuchi, former director of the Martha Graham Ensemble and the Martha Graham School, Dance Spotlight has been working to thoughtfully capture and analyze Graham’s Technique so these visionary movements will be available for generations to come.
GRAHAM TECHNIQUE VIDEOS
For the first time Dance Spotlight, in collaboration with the Martha Graham Dance Company, is digitally recording all of the Graham Technique and movement vocabulary. This passionate undertaking will provide students and teachers with an invaluable resource assuring the revolutionary technique and movements are not lost.
HELP US PRESERVE THE LEGACY
Dance Spotlight is trying to create an accurate record of the original Graham movement vocabulary before elements are lost or evolved beyond recognition as new generations add their interpretations. These videos will enable the technique and consequently the choreography to be preserved and performed. This project will provide greater knowledge of and access worldwide to this extraordinary legacy.
Be a part of and support this historic and invaluable endeavor. Any amount is appreciated. Dance Spotlight is a 501(c)(3) corporation and your donations are tax deductible. Let's preserve our artistic legacy.