Martha Graham, Mother of Modern Dance
By Liz Angus

Modern dance has always been close to me; having come from a family of dancers I was quickly enrolled in several different types of dance classes as a child.  Dancing became a part of me and is imbedded into every aspect of my being.  I will now show you some interesting history behind modern dance, the mother of modern and, the direction it is taking, why I grew to deeply appreciate it, and how it has altered me as a person.

Modern dance originated from ballet this happened when people started incorporating ballet into theatrical works. The mixing of these two very different styles resulted into a birth of modern. The unconventional movement of this dance is less about the structure and poise of its predecessor and more about the conveying of the emotion of the work. in these works impulse is the drive behind every move of a dancer. Previously they had set steps and positions, now they are at the mercy of the choreographer.

One choreographer that was known for her strict work habits, breakthrough movements, and relentless practices was Martha Graham. Ms. Graham was born in Pennsylvania and didn’t start dancing till her teens. She then moved to Los Angles to study under Ted Shawn. After years of studying Martha finally left Ted Shawn and started teaching at Eastman. Here Martha had full control of the dance department and led several inspirational dances. Martha Graham said, “I wanted to begin not with characters or ideas, but with movements . . .I wanted significant movement. I did not want it to be beautiful or fluid. I wanted it to be fraught with inner meaning, with excitement and surge.” Ms. Graham announced her retirement from performances in 1969. In the following years Martha Graham didn’t become any less influential. She set up the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York City she taught and choreographed there until her death in 1991.

Martha’s legacy lives on through her work the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance is still teaching in New York City. People come from all around the world to learn the techniques used by Ms. Graham. They also set up Graham II which is a dance company set up for alumna of the school. This school also has paved that way for other dance school, such as Complexions Contemporary Dance based in New York. This was set up in 1994 by two Martha Graham inspired dancers.

Through the years I have come to appreciate dance on many different levels. When I was a child it was a fun way to make friends and spend my afternoons after school. When high school came along I was in many different organizations such as cheerleading and color guard. With all the time constrictions I began taking less and less dance classes. Not until recently did I realize that having dance experience has helped me through all of these organizations. I went in to these organizations already having the capability to be a lifelong learner and being comfortable in my own skin.