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Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham
Transcript of Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham
Martha Graham 1894-1991
Martha Graham was born in Allegheny (now Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania. 
She moved to California in 1910. 
Martha was a Denishawn dancer/teacher for eight years. 
Martha's father was a doctor that specialized in nervous disorders.
Graham was inspired by her fathers philosophy that the human body could express the inner senses. 
Modern American Culture
love portraying America 
Martha centered her work around it 
She wore costumes to help the emotion in her work come to life. 
She thought about the attire in her pieces strategically to help visualize the movements. 
Louis Horst introduced Martha to art and musical form. He was her musical director for most of her career. 
Lovers from 1921-1948 
Graham married Erick Hawkins, the first male to join her company in 1948. They were divorced shortly after that in 1954. 
Erick Hawkins introduced her to greek mythology, which was her inspiration for
She received many awards
Medal of Freedom in 1976 
Katherine Dunham (1909-2006)
Born in Glen Ellyn, IL. 
Danced for her high school and focused on ballet and modern dance.
Studied anthropology at the University of Chicago and received money to study dance for 18 months in the Caribbean. 
Fought against racism and formed an all-black dance company. 
The company for over 30 years was the only self-supported African-American dance company in the United States. 
Published three books on her experience abroad: Dances of Haiti, Island Possessed and Touch of Innocence 
Was awarded and honored from the University of Illinois. 
At 83 years old she began a hunger strike to bring attention to Haiti refugees who were seeking shelter. 
She got married in 1940 to John Pratt. 
 Blum, Elle. "Martha Graham Dance Technique." Suite. N.p., 23 June 2009. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.
 Johnston, Philip. "Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham." Discovering Dance. Knoxville: Celtic Cat, n.d. 47-60. Print.
 "Martha Graham: A Brief History." Elyse Bova, 27 Apr. 2009. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.
 "Martha Graham." PBS. PBS, 16 Sept. 2005. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.
 "Martha Graham." 2014. The Biography Channel website. 16 Feb. 2014.
 Sommer, Sally. "Biographies." PBS. PBS, 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.
 "Welcome to the Official Katherine Dunham Website." Katherine Dunham. Katherine Dunham Centers for Art & Humanities, 2011. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.
Her mother and father were strong Presbyterians and did not fully support her desire to pursue dance. 
However she continued pursuing her passion and the Martha Graham Dance Company was established in 1926. 
Throughout her life time, she created 180 original works. 
Martha's last piece was in 1990. She died a year later at the age of 96. 
Truly admired the people of Haiti and spent most of her time there. 
Became a priestess in the "vodoun" religion.
Loved the way Caribbean performers showed the emotion and trauma of slavery. 
Wanted to include images of Afro-Caribbean culture to her performances. 
Enjoyed writing and wanted to tell others about her experience abroad. 
Dunham wanted to end slavery and tackle the racist, artistic and social preconceptions of African Americans. 
Dunham's Signature Movements
Innovative interpretations of Caribbean dances, traditional ballet, African rituals and African American rhythms to create the Dunham Technique.
Merging polyrhythmic dance styles in continual motion. 
A loose torso and spine, articulated pelvis and isolation of the limbs.
Like her father, Martha was intrigued by the ability of the body to depict inner senses. 
Although her style was once called "ugly," she is now considered "Mother of Modern Dance." 
Her style consisted of body movements best described as contractions and releases. 
With these types of movements, Graham portrayed current issues in the American society. 
During the Stock Market Crash, Martha choreographed
, which she was depicted as a rebel and outcast. 
Unlike Denishawn styles, Martha's movements were more angular and sharp. 
Her dancing surprised the audiences of that time due to the subtle sexuality incorporated (contracting). 
Martha also explored floor work. 
Graham's Signature Movements
The Contraction- grief in the body. This movement starts in the pelvis and continues up the spine. (looks like someone is hunching over). 
The Release-opposes "the contraction". One starts with a deep breath and returns to standing position. 
The Spiral-twisting of the torso around the spine. This movement also starts in the torso. That being said your head is the last to twist. 
Floor work 
Deep stretches/elongated foot
Turns around the back
“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.” –Martha Graham
What do you think Martha meant by that and how that was seen in the movement of her and her dancers?
How are Ted Shawn's and Katherine Dunham's contributions to modern dance similar?
Which choreographer's style do you feel is more present in modern dance today?