On October 8th, 2009 at the CentralPark Boathouse and joined by legendary soprano, Martina Arroyo there was a great
luncheon at the Central Park
for Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance.
Martha Graham is recognized as a primal artistic force of the 20th Century
alongside Picasso, Stravinsky, James Joyce, and Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1998
TIME Magazine named Martha Graham as the "Dancer of the Century," and People Magazine named her
among the female "Icons of the Century." As a choreographer, she was as prolific as she was complex.
She created 181 ballets and a dance technique that has been compared to ballet in its scope and magnitude. Many
of the great modern and ballet choreographers have studied the Martha Graham Technique or have been members
of her company.
Inger Witter and Irina Pabst
Maria Del Toro
Martha Graham Elena Stephanopoulos
Martha Graham's extraordinary artistic legacy has often been compared to Stanislavsky's Art Theatre
in Moscow and the Grand Kabuki Theatre of Japan, for its diversity and breadth. Her legacy is perpetuated in
performance by the members of the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Martha Graham Ensemble, and by the
students of the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance.
Howard Schlosser Martha Graham Natan Bibliowicz
In 1926, Martha Graham founded her dance company and school, living and working out of a tiny Carnegie Hall
studio in midtown Manhattan. In developing her technique, Martha Graham experimented endlessly with
basic human movement, beginning with the most elemental movements of contraction and release. Using
these principles as the foundation for her technique, she built a vocabulary of movement that would
"increase the emotional activity of the dancer's body." Martha Graham's dancing and choreography exposed
the depths of human emotion through movements that were sharp, angular, jagged, and direct. The dance world was
forever altered by Martha Graham's vision, which has been and continues to be a source of inspiration for
generations of dance and theatre artists.
Cheree L. Gulley / Helen Diane
Martha Graham's ballets were inspired by a wide variety of sources, including modern painting, the
American frontier, religious ceremonies of Native Americans, and Greek mythology. Many of her most important roles
portray great women of history and mythology: Clytemnestra, Jocasta, Medea, Phaedra, Joan of Arc, and Emily Dickinson.
Martha Graham with Joyce Purniick
Neila Radtke with Beth Thill
van Dooren Martha
Graham's talented students!
As an artist, Martha Graham conceived each new work in its entirety — dance, costumes, and music. During her 70 years
of creating dances, Martha Graham collaborated with such artists as sculptor Isamu Noguchi; actor and director John
Houseman; fashion designers Halston, Donna Karan and Calvin Klein; and renowned composers including Aaron Copland,
Louis Horst (her mentor), Samuel Barber, William Schuman, Carlos Surinach, Norman Dello Joio, and Gian Carlo Menotti.
Her company was the training ground for many future modern choreographers, including Merce Cunningham, Paul
Taylor, and Twyla Tharp. She created roles for classical ballet stars such as Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf
Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov, welcoming them as guests into her company. In charge of movement and dance at
The Neighborhood Playhouse, she taught actors including Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, Madonna, Liza Minnelli, Gregory Peck,
Tony Randall, Anne Jackson, and Joanne Woodward how to use the body as an expressive instrument.
Amélie Bénard Oliver Tobin and Jessica
Delia Amélie Bénard
Her uniquely American vision and creative genius earned her numerous honors and awards such as the Laurel
Leaf of the American Composers Alliance in 1959 for her service to music. Her colleagues in theater, the
members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local One, voted her the recipient of
the 1986 Local One Centennial Award for Dance, not to be awarded for another 100 years. In 1976, President
Gerald R. Ford bestowed upon Martha Graham the United States' highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom,
and declared her a "national treasure," making her the first dancer and choreographer to receive this honor.
Another Presidential honor was awarded Martha Graham in 1985 when President Ronald Reagan designated her among the
first recipients of the United States National Medal of Arts.
to view the PDF version of this Article.