Martha Graham (1894-1991) was a groundbreaking American contemporary dancer and choreographer. A prolific artist that created 181 master dance pieces, Graham had also worked with many leading artists, musicians, and designers of her day, including sculptor Isamu Noguchi, fashion designers Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, as well as composers Aaron Copland, William Schuman, and Gian Carlo Menotti. Graham’s style came out of her experimentation with the simple movement of contraction and release. “By focusing on the basic activities of the human form, she enlivened the body with raw, electric emotion.”
Martha Graham and her Company have expanded contemporary dance’s movement vocabulary and forever altered the scope of the art form. The Company has nurtured many of the leading choreographers and dancers of the 20th and 21st centuries, including: Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, Pearl Lang, Pascal Rioult, and Paul Taylor. Graham’s groundbreaking techniques and unmistakable style have earned the Company audiences in more than 50 countries throughout the globe.
This upcoming April, the Martha Graham Company will celebrate its 90th anniversary by revisiting some of Graham’s classic choreographies. From April 14-18 at the New York City Center, the Company plans to perform pieces such as “Chronicle,” “Cave of the Heart, “Night Journey”, and “Appalachian Spring.” A gala will be held on the final day, which is the anniversary of Graham’s first public performance with her concert group in 1926.
Check out this short clip of Martha Graham dancing in her 1894 work “Night Journey." In this piece, Graham tells the Greek tragic story of King Oedipus, which features Paul Taylor as Tiresias.