"Martha Graham"

Essay by atlgapCollege, UndergraduateA, July 2004

download word file, 7 pages 5.0

Martha Graham, a name widely known among fellow dance connoisseurs, has been compared to some of the most talented artists of the past due to her significant contributions to what is today called "contemporary" dance. It is believed that her impact on modern dance is equivalent to that of Frank Lloyd Wright's on architecture, Stravinsky's on music, and Picasso's on painting. Her contrasting ideas of dances being composed of harsh, angular floor movement transformed the art of dance performance and altered the perceptions of those who thought they understood what dance was. For her many contributions and her development of a technique that has become a part of the common vocabulary of dancers everywhere, I agree with the others in naming Martha Graham: The Twentieth Century's Most Important Dancer, the Mother of Modern Dance.

Graham is not credited for being the first to rebel against the structured and unyielding customs of nineteenth century ballet.

The early 1900s boomed with young women, hence the women's movement, with very similar ideas at the time. But it was the success and rapid influence of the style of dance that she conjured, which made her renowned.

However, had it not been for a performance she saw at the age of sixteen, she would had never found her calling in the field of dance. In 1911, at age seventeen, Graham witnessed a life-changing performance at the Mason House Opera in Los Angles by ballet dancer Ruth St. Denis, which inspired her to enroll in the specialized junior arts college, Cumnoch University and later the Denishawn School of Dance, whose company she joined. Founded by Ruth St. Denis and her husband Ted Shawn, the company was one of the first to specialize in performances overlooked in the United States, such as Greek pageants, Japanese...