Nov 10, 2017 in Review

The Harsh and Splendid Heroines of Martha Graham

The essay describes Martha Graham's style, intensity in creativity turning historical, social, literary dance material, and images into reality. Her approach is described as very personal and literary in terms of describing themes in her choreography. It has created a ceaselessly strong body of work that continues to reform itself for new dancers (Dils, 2001).

The New York spring season at the Mark Hellinger Theater garnered quite a large audience. The dance was described as new and unlike any other ballet performance. The action centered one person or at most two people at a time showing that the group scenes more than often would cause different personalities to lose their individuality to merge with the group itself. There are very few group interactions in Graham's pieces. Her dances are, however, unexpectedly small with some performances having between two to four principal dances and no chorus at all. This has been attributed to the fact that she maintained a small company around her, and, therefore, there are only twenty six dancers in Graham’s team (Dils, 2001).

Whichever style Graham goes with in her dances, the intensity of each episode keeps concentrated meaning that the few characters in each dance have to carry the whole performance in that all of the dancers become very crucial to it. The typical dance created by Graham does not have continuity and flow that dancers normally create when entering and exiting the stage.

Five years after leaving Denishawn, she began to make her own choreographic material, which was unique as she decided to move in a different direction. Her ballet routines showed discord, unraveling pathways that were twisted, and her dancers used tensions to show their power instead of keeping it discrete to make the dance look serene. This was contrary to what ballet was at the time as choreographers sought for harmony, flow and balance in their dances. As her company grew larger so did her style and work, which goes on to create dances revolving around legends and plots, such as “El Penintete” (1940) and “Deaths and Entrances” (1943) (Dils, 2001).

When Graham reminisced about her childhood, she created more dances, such as “The Letter to the World” (1940) and “Appalachian Spring” (1944), which reflected stories from her early days that inspired the characters from her dances. In the “Errand to the Maze” (1947), Graham symbolizes the strength of women showing they have more power beyond their sexuality.

Graham acknowledges that dance today appeals to audiences as they are more knowledgeable than ever. It is apparent that contemporary people prefer dances that have meaning. I chose this article because Graham revolutionized the meaning of dance by showing psychological insight, and at the same time she was very enthusiastic to frame revitalized outlook about the ballet (Dils, 2001).

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