Born In: Allegheny, Pennsylvania, United States
The first ever dancer to perform at the White House, American dancer Martha Graham was an artist beyond compare. In a career spanning over half a century, she revolutionized modern dance and created more than 180 works as a dancer and choreographer. She believed in revealing the inner man and saw the art of dance as a medium for the expression of intense human emotions. Her influence on modern dance has often been compared with the influence Picasso had on the modern visual arts and Stravinsky had on music. A highly creative person, she saw dance as a “movement language” that allowed human beings to artistically express their inner most desires, fears, and ecstasies. As an artist, she collaborated with not just other dancers, but also with painters, designers and musicians to produce works of art that were as aesthetically appealing as they were profoundly touching. Through her experimentation with social, political and psychological themes, she influenced generations of choreographers and dancers including Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp. She founded the Martha Graham Dance Company, which is today the oldest American dance company; the company served as the launch pad for many of the great 20th and 21st century modern dancers and choreographers.
Died At Age: 96
Spouse/Ex-: Erick Hawkins
father: George Graham
mother: Jane Beers
Born Country: United States
place of death: New York, New York, United States
U.S. State: Pennsylvania
Ancestry: British American, Irish American
Cause of Death: Pneumonia
awards: 1976 - Presidential Medal of Freedom
highest civilian award of the USA
Martha Graham was born on May 11, 1894, as one of the three daughters of George Graham, a physician, and his wife Jane Beers, in a suburb of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Her father was a doctor ad practiced psychiatry.
Martha Graham performed an Egyptian dance with Lillian Powell—again under Shawn’s guidance—in a short silent film by Hugo Riesenfeld, in 1922.
Martha Graham left Denishawn in 1923 and became a featured dancer in the Greenwich Village Follies revue. She went to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York in 1924 where she taught dance.
She made her debut as an independent artist in New York, in 1926. She loved experimenting with dance movements and this was reflected in her performances. Some of the performances she gave during this time were ‘Three Gopi Maidens’ and ‘Danse Languide’.
She founded the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1926, as a contemporary dance company. The company went on to become a very famous institution for dancers and choreographers.
In 1927, Martha Graham performed a program, Revolt, set to the avant-garde music of Arthur Honegger. This was an original dance that was considerably different from her previous works and was not received positively by the audiences. But this did not dampen her imaginative spirit.
Martha Graham was inducted into the National Museum of Dance's Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame, in 1987.
A dancer named Eric Hawkins joined her troupe in 1939 and played the male lead in many of her works. Eventually the two developed a relationship and got married in 1948. They, however, separated in 1954.