Martha Graham's Influence On Dance

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Martha Graham was a skilled and influential dancer who touched the lives of many. As an influential figure in someone’s life, one would leave a lasting mark on his or her actions, tendencies and personality. Graham left more than a lasting mark on the lives of Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor; she gave them training to become the dancers and choreographers that they were destined to be. Martha started the idea of innovation and modernization in dance; Cunningham and Taylor continued it. Martha Graham had a lasting impact on the lives and work of these two men; although they both went their own ways and created techniques and dance companies of their own, Graham’s influence on both artists is still clear in their work. Martha Graham was born …show more content…
When Graham decided to make the leap and go out on her own to perform solo and create her own work outside of the world of Denishawn, she showed great courage, her work reflects her strength and her independent mindset. With her very early original work, she shows a woman- unafraid to speak about what may be controversial or unspoken. One of Graham’s earlier works, “Frontier”, could represent her mind-set during this time of new things on the horizon. Graham had said in her book, Blood Memories, “I had the idea of Frontier in my mind as a frontier of exploration. A frontier of discovery, and not one of limitation. (…) It makes me triumphant to think that nothing lasts but the spirit of man and the union of man” (Graham). Although when Graham talks about it, she speaks of the actual Frontier and spirit of humankind, she was embarking on a frontier of her own with a new journey ahead of her, which is just as triumphant. As Graham began to create her own dance company, her technique became something she taught as well. The Graham technique includes contraction and release, the use of silence, and the use of weight in dance. Graham taught many dancers her technique, and inspired many through her work. She created pieces like Appalachian Spring, which began to show the modernism of her work, and the technique she is …show more content…
Cunningham and Graham worked together in works such as “Appalachian Spring” ("Merce Cunningham (1919-2009): Dancer, Choreographer, and Interdisciplinary Collaborator"). Cunningham learned and danced with Martha Graham and soaked in her teachings and techniques. It was here that Cunningham began to create some of his own first works, with music from the composer John Cage, whom he met in 1937 at the Cornish School of Fine Arts in Seattle ("Merce Cunningham- Biography"). Merce began to pave the way for his own technique and school of thought while at the Martha Graham Dance Company. While Graham defied the rules of ballet, and embraced the breath, the silence, and gravity, she remained in the school of thought that telling stories through dance is what one should do. Although her technique was new and innovative, she would still tell stories, they would often have a message, motive or her voice, still, a narrative nonetheless, that an audience would be able to understand. Cunningham, however, felt that this did not have to be the case. As Cunningham began to find his own voice in the world of dance choreography and technique, he began to come up with his own ideas of what dance should encapsulate at all. Cunningham began to diverge from what he learned and discovered during his time with Graham, “he admired

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