Martha Graham

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I decided to research one of the most influential Modern Dance pioneers; Martha Graham. Graham’s contributions to dance has often been compared to Picasso’s contributions to art and Stravinsky’s to music; in my opinion she opened up many new opportunities and possibilities for dance including the ability to learn free expression and honesty through movement.

Martha Graham was born on May the 11th, 1894, in the suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Martha was one of George and Jane Beers Graham’s three daughters. Martha’s father was a doctor who specialised in nervous disorders. George Graham was interested in the prevention of these particular disorders through physical activity; an idea that certainly interested Martha. It was part of this idea, that the body could be treated and cured through physical activity that initially drew Graham to movement through dance. Dance wasn’t the first physical activity she thought of but she stayed fit and healthy through other sports until her teenage years. In 1911, at the age of 13, Graham went and saw a performance by Ruth St. Denis at the Mason Opera House in Los Angeles. After seeing the performance she pleaded her parents to let her begin studying the beautiful form of art that was dance. Her parents however, due to their religious beliefs, would not allow her to study dance. Instead, Graham enrolled in the junior school, Cumnock College which was involved in other related arts. Graham was still inspired to dance though, and when her father passed away in the year of 1915, she almost immediately enrolled in the newly founded dance school; Denishawn. Denishawn was a dance school founded by husband and wife, Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. It was one of the first to teach modern dance professionally and gave anyone the right to learn modern dance and other related arts. Graham had never had a dance lesson before but being the shy, hardworking girl she was, she soon impressed Ted Shawn and toured with his troupe in the...
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