Martha Graham (May 11, 1894 – April 1, 1991) is recognized as a primal artistic force of the 20th Century alongside Picasso, Stravinsky, James Joyce, and Frank Lloyd Wright.(1)
After studying and working with Ruth St. Denis, then joining the vaudeville revue of Greenwich Village Follies, Martha Graham went out on her own.(2) Many times referred to as the Mother of Modern Dance(3), she was one of its most influential innovators, mentoring the likes of Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, and Merce Cunningham.(4)
Martha Graham Dance Company made its official debut on April 18, 1926, in New York City, with The Flute of Krishna. The film below was produced by the Eastman Kodak Company. (5)
Synopsis of The Flute of Krishna:
[Eastman Theatre Magazine, May 1926, page 2] “The Flute of Krishna” is an East Indian idyl or legend. Krishna is the God of Love and Radha his affianced bride. He sounds the love call on the flute. Krishna, being love, makes use of many disguises and materializes for each mortal at the moment love takes possession of her soul. Sometimes he appears and playfully woos the village maidens. (6)
The theme of The Flute of Krisha shows the clear mystical orientalist imprint of her mentor Ruth St. Denis. In her more mature work, Martha Graham became identified with themes of North America, great mythological and historical figures and themes showing deep emotion and conflict out of which she sculpted her "dance plays" imbued with a sense of the extreme drama her angular sometimes convulsive style conveyed. She is noted for giving modern dance new depth as a vehicle for the intense and forceful expression of primal emotions.(7)
Martha Graham Quotes:
There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.
The body is a sacred garment.
Our arms start from the back because they were once wings.
Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It's a miracle, and the dance is a celebration of that miracle.
Dance is the hidden language of the soul.
(1) Martha Graham Resources
(2)The Early Moderns Web Tutorial
(3) Martha Graham, 1894-1991: The Mother of Modern Dance (http://www.voanews.com/specialenglish/archive/2008-08/2008-08-02-voa2.cfm)
(4) American Masters (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/martha-graham/about-the-dancer/497/)
(5) The Robinson Library
(6) Silent Era
(7) Britannica (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/240726/Martha-Graham)