Martha Graham (1894-1991), born on this day in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, was first inspired to dance by pioneer Ruth Saint-Denis' exotic Epytia performance.
"Miss Ruth opened a door for me and I saw into life," Graham explained.
A dancer, choreographer, and teacher, Graham gained world acclaim with her company, the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, which opened in 1927.
One of her most important works, Letter to the World, was an interpretation of Emily Dickinson's poetry. Graham examined the inner life of the famous poet and celebrated feelings beyond Dickinson's gentle words, "Judge Tenderly--of Me."
Graham was inspired by ancient ritual and myth and believed dance was "the hidden language of the soul of the body." As she brought drama to modern dance from the female point of view, she boldly contradicted classical dance rules.
Her creation of powerful movement lasted over 70 years, until her death at 96. "Age," she said, "is the acceptance of the term of years. But maturity is the glory of years."
With passion, she produced 181 original ballets, including works based on Freudian and Jungian themes and historical and folk characters. She weaved magic about life, death, love, and rebirth.
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action," she celebrated, "and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost."
More Martha GRAHAM Quotations
Use your body to communicate the words of your soul.