Martha Graham was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 11, 1894. She was influenced by her father as a child. Her dad worked as a doctor who used physical movement to remedy nervous disorders. Throughout her teens, Graham studied dance in Los Angeles at Denishawn. In 1926, she established her own dance company in New York City. She danced into her 60s and choreographed until her death in 1991, leaving the dance world forever changed.
In the 1910s, the Graham family moved to California, and when Martha was 17, she saw Ruth St. Denis perform at the Mason Opera House in Los Angeles. After the show, she begged her parents to allow her to study dance, but being strong Presbyterians, they wouldn't allow it. She was still inspired and later spent more than eight years, as both a student and an instructor at the newly opened Denishawn School of Dancing and Related Arts, which was founded by Ruth St. Denis and her husband Ted Shawn.
Working for the most part with Ted Shawn, Martha improved her technique and began dancing professionally. Ted choreographed the dance production "Xochitl" specifically for Graham, who performed the role of an attacked Aztec maiden. The wildly emotional performance garnered her critical acclaim. Martha left Denishawn in 1923 to take a job with the Greenwich Village Follies. Two years later, she left the Follies to broaden her career. She took teaching positions at the Eastman School of Music and Theater in Rochester, New York, and the John Murray Anderson School in New York City to support herself. In 1926, she established the Martha Graham Dance Company. Its incipient programs were stylistically similar to those of her teachers, but she quickly found her artistic voice and began conducting elaborate experiments in dance.
Ever more bold, and illustrating her visions through jarring, violent, spastic and trembling movements, Martha...
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