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Martha Graham

By | March 2013
Page 1 of 3
Mary Arlauskas
11/8/12
Period 1b
Ms. Janosack
Martha Graham
There have been many people in the world of dance that have made an impact on lives around the world. Some dancers might have made more than others; Martha Graham is one of those dancers. People say she’s the Picasso of dance and would change the world of dance forever. She was born on May 11, 1894 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her father, George Graham, treated people with nerve disorders where her mother, Jane Beers Graham, had no known job. She also had two sisters and a brother that died when he was two. Her family was very religious and wealthy and was required to attend daily prayers. When Graham was ten, her family moved from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Santa Barbara, California because her sister, Mary, had severe asthma and the air is much cleaner out there. Moving to California helped spark a passion that would last throughout her whole life. Graham became interested in dance after watching Ruth St. Denis perform in Los Angeles, California in 1914. Her parents disapproved of her dancing so she in rolled in the Cumnock School, a junior college. Her father died in 1914 and Graham then felt permitted to follow her dream. After graduating Cumnock, she enrolled in the Denishaw Studio in Los Angeles when she was twenty-two and met Ted Shawn. She was told that she was too old and her body wasn't built for it but she was a quick learner. She worked very hard and paid close attention to detail and learned all the techniques. Graham rejected the traditional classic ballet and focused on the freedom of movement. She disliked stiff movements but liked the angular look. People who watched her thought that she was dancing in an “ugly” way. She created “percussive movements” by experimenting with what the body can do based on its own structure. Also through her new methods, she created a breathing movement called “contraction and release” along with the spiral. She developed contracting by watching...
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