Martha Graham Dance Company

Martha Graham
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 The Martha Graham Dance Company is known as the oldest American dance company. Founded in 1926 by Martha Graham, the contemporary dance company is still thriving today. The company has been recognized as "one of the great dance companies of the world" by the New York Times. The Washington Post once referred to it as "one of the seven wonders of the artistic universe."

History of Martha Graham Dance Company

The Martha Graham Dance Company began in 1926 when Martha Graham began teaching a group of dancers.

The Martha Graham Studio was created and remained under Graham's guidance for the rest of her life. Recognized as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century Martha Graham created a movement language based upon the expressive capacity of the human body. Students who have studied at the Martha Graham School have moved on to professional dance companies such as the Martha Graham Dance Company, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Jose Limon Dance Company, the Buglisi Dance Theater, Rioult Dance Theater, The Battery Dance Company, Noemi Lafrance Dance Company, as well as other companies throughout the world and well known Broadway shows.

Martha Graham

Martha Graham was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania on May 11, 1894. Her father, George Graham, was a doctor of nervous disorders, known today as psychiatry. Her mother, Jane Beers, was a descendant of Myles Standish. Being a doctor's family, the Grahams had a high standard of living, with the children under the supervision of a live-in maid.

The social status of the Graham family increased Martha's exposure to the arts, but being the oldest daughter of a strict Presbyterian doctor would be detrimental.

Through her choreography, Martha began to push the art of dance to new limits. Her early dances were not well-received by audiences, as they were confused by what they were seeing on stage.Her performances were powerful and modern, and were often based on strong, precise movements and pelvic contractions.

Martha believed that by incorporating spastic movements and falls, she could express emotional and spiritual themes. Her choreography overflowed with beauty and emotion. Martha was establishing a new language of dance, one that would change everything that came after it.

Training Programs

Students seeking advanced training at the Martha Graham School may choose from the following programs:

Professional Training Program: Developed for students seeking a career in dance. This two-year, full-time, 60-credit program offers in-depth studies at professional standards.

Third-Year Post-Certificate Program: For students seeking advanced studies after completing the Professional Training Program. This program focuses on the next level of study of Technique, Repertory, Composition, Performance, and Individual Projects.

Teacher Training Program: For advanced/professional-level students wishing to pursue a career in dance education. This one-year, full-time, 30-credit program addresses teaching approaches and methodology in the first semester, while the second semester focuses on teaching practices.

Independent Program: Designed for students at all levels who wish to engage in a rigorous study in the Martha Graham Technique.

Students are accepted into the Independent Program on the basis of teacher recommendation, personal essay and/or demonstration of commitment.

Intensive Program: For students unable to attend the Martha Graham School year round or who wish to progress rapidly in the Martha Graham Technique. The Winter and Summer Intensives for adults offer dancers a rigorous program in Martha Graham Technique, Repertory, and Dance Composition. 

For students unable to attend the Martha Graham School year round or who wish to progress rapidly, the Winter and Summer Intensives offer dancers a rigorous program in Martha Graham Technique, Repertory, and Dance Composition. 

Graham Technique – The Martha Graham Technique amplifies the natural movement associated with the breath through Graham’s signature contraction and release.

It promotes strength and risk taking, and serves as a foundation for excellence. Four levels are offered.

Graham Repertory – Participants study Graham’s masterworks, inspired by a wide variety of sources, including modern painting, the American frontier, spiritual ceremonies, and Greek mythology.

Composition – Participants explore the process of dance making and construct their own choreographic phrases. Students will be encouraged to develop a choreography “toolbox” and find their own artistic voice.

Gyrokinesis – Gyrokinesis is a conditioning and injury prevention technique that stretches and strengthens the body through principles of alignment, concentric and eccentric forces, and breathing patterns.

Ballet – The Martha Graham School approaches ballet training in a nurturing way, focusing on the individual student’s abilities. The classes are structured to enhance and support the study of the Martha Graham Technique.