Born in 1894, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Martha Graham is the mother of modern dance and is also considered as one of the most important dancers of the 20th century. Her choreographies were infused with social, political, psychological and sexual themes, are considered timeless.
Her father, Dr. Graham, specializing in nervous disorder was interested in diagnosis through attention to the physical movement. This interested was passed on to Martha Graham, which was pivotal in her dance. She was inspired by Ruth St. Denis, a ballet dancer who performed in Mason Opera House in Los Angeles. She enrolled in Denishawn School, founded by Ruth St. Denis and her husband Ted Shawn.
He made a dance specifically for Martha Graham in "Xochital". She danced as a attacked Aztec maiden for which she garnered her first critical acclaim. In 1926, the Martha Graham Dance Company was established. Graham believed that through violent, jarring, spastic, and trembling movements, spiritual and emotional themes could be expressed which was ignored by other dance forms.
Louis Horst, a composer joined her dance company as a musical director and stayed with them almost till the end of her career. She explored human and societal complexities by creating works like Deaths and Entrances (1943), Appalachian Spring (1944), Dark Meadow (1946), and Errand into the Maze (1947). American Document (1938) which was a dramatic narrative, captured the soul of the American people, showcased her brilliance.
Throughout her life, she created 181 masterpiece dance compositions. She was given the Local One Centennial, an award given once in 100 yeas. In the Bicentennial, she was given The Medal of Freedom, the highest American civilian honor. She was also named 'Dancer of the Century' by Times magazine in 1998. She was also the first dancer to perform in the White House. A cultural ambassador, she was able to capture the spirit of the nation and was able to expand the horizon of contemporary dance.
To Martha Graham, whose creativity transversed artistic boundaries and grasped every artistic genre, inspiring and influencing generations of choreographers, performers, and audiences.