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Martha Graham Dance Company at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Martha Graham Dance Company at The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Martha Graham Dance Company


The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028


Saturday, October 7, 2023 - 11:00am
Tuesday, October 10, 2023 - 11:00am



Martha Graham Dance Company

Radical Dance for the People: Martha Graham Dance Company

at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

October 7 and 10, 2023


New York, NY (August 23, 2023) – The world-renowned Martha Graham Dance Company will present six of Martha Graham’s most powerful solos from the 1930s as part of MetLiveArts Fall 2023 Season on Saturday, October 7, and Tuesday, October 10, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Multiple performances will take place during Museum hours, and will be free with Museum admission. The pop-up performances will be presented in dialogue with the exhibition Art for the Millions: American Culture and Politics in the 1930s (on view at The Met September 7–December 10, 2023). The performances are presented by MetLiveArts as part of GRAHAM100, a three-season celebration of the Company’s 100th anniversary.

Works to be presented include Lamentation (1930), Satyric Festival Song (1932), Ekstasis (1933), Spectre-1914 (1936), Immediate Tragedy (1937), and Deep Song (1937). These early works highlight the sculptural elements of Martha Graham’s choreography as well as her deep and timeless connection to social issues and the human condition.

Performances will take place at The Met Fifth Avenue. For more information, visit https://www.metmuseum.org/events/programs/met-live-arts/martha-graham-dance-company.

For more information about the Martha Graham Dance Company, visit www.marthagraham.org.


About MetLiveArts

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s concert program was founded in 1954, and has since expanded into a groundbreaking series that explores contemporary performance through the lens of the Museum’s exhibitions and gallery spaces. MetLiveArts invites artists, performers, curators, and thought leaders to collaborate with The Met, leading to the creation of commissions, world premieres, and site-specific dance, music, and theatrical experiences that have received international recognition and have been among some of the most singular and memorable performances in New York City.


About Martha Graham

Martha Graham (1894–1991) is recognized as a primal artistic force of the 20th century, alongside James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, and Frank Lloyd Wright. TIME magazine named Martha Graham “Dancer of the Century,” and People magazine named her among the female “Icons of the Century.” The diversity and depth of her extraordinary artistic legacy, often compared to Stanislavsky’s Art Theatre in Moscow and the Grand Kabuki Theatre of Japan, is perpetuated in performance by the Martha Graham Dance Company and Graham 2, and by the students of the Martha Graham School.

In 1926, Martha Graham founded her dance company and school while living and working out of a tiny Carnegie Hall studio in midtown Manhattan. In developing her technique, Graham experimented endlessly with basic human movement, beginning with the elemental forms of contraction and release. Using those principles as the foundation, she built a movement vocabulary that would “increase the emotional activity of the dancer’s body.” With this pioneering technique, which has been compared to ballet in its scope and magnitude, Graham’s 181 ballets expose the depths of human emotion through movements that are sharp, angular, jagged, and direct.

As complex as she was prolific, Graham’s approach not only revolutionized the art form of dance with an innovative physical vocabulary, she expanded the scope of the art form by rooting works in contemporary social, political, psychological, and sexual contexts, deepening their impact and resonance. Graham’s ballets were inspired by a wide variety of sources, including modern painting, the American frontier, religious ceremonies of Native Americans, and Greek mythology. Many of her most important roles portray great women of history and mythology: Clytemnestra, Jocasta, Medea, Phaedra, Joan of Arc, and Emily Dickinson.

As an artist, Martha Graham conceived each new work in its entirety—dance, costumes, and music. During her 70 years of creating dances, she collaborated with such artists as sculptor Isamu Noguchi; actor and director John Houseman; fashion designers Halston, Donna Karan, and Calvin Klein; and renowned composers including Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Norman Dello Joio, Louis Horst (her mentor), Gian Carlo Menotti, William Schuman, and Carlos Surinach.

Always a fertile ground for experimentation, the Martha Graham Dance Company has been an unparalleled resource in nurturing many leading choreographers and dancers of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Jacqulyn Buglisi, Merce Cunningham, Sir Robert Cohan, Erick Hawkins, Pearl Lang, Donald McKayle, Elisa Monte, Anna Sokolow, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp. She created roles for classical ballet stars such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Margot Fonteyn, and Rudolf Nureyev, welcoming them as guests into her Company. In charge of movement and dance at The Neighborhood Playhouse, she taught actors such as Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, Anne Jackson, Madonna, Liza Minnelli, Gregory Peck, Tony Randall, and Joanne Woodward how to use the body as an expressive instrument.

Martha Graham’s uniquely American vision and creative genius earned her numerous honors and awards, such as the Laurel Leaf Award of the American Composers Alliance in 1959 for her service to music. Her colleagues in theater, the members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local One, voted her the recipient of the 1986 Local One Centennial Award for Dance, not to be awarded for another 100 years. In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford bestowed the United States’ highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, upon Martha Graham and declared her a “national treasure,” making her the first dancer and choreographer to receive this recognition. Graham received another presidential honor when President Ronald Reagan named her among the first recipients of the United States National Medal of Arts in 1985.


About the Martha Graham Dance Company

The Martha Graham Dance Company has been a leader in the evolving art form of modern dance since its founding in 1926. It is both the oldest dance company in the United States and the oldest integrated dance company.

Today, the Company is embracing a new programming vision that showcases masterpieces by Graham alongside newly commissioned works by contemporary artists. With programs that unite the work of choreographers across time within a rich historical and thematic narrative, the Company is actively working to create new platforms for contemporary dance and multiple points of access for audiences.

Since its inception, the Martha Graham Dance Company has received international acclaim from audiences in more than 50 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The Company has performed at the Metropolitan Opera House, Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House, Covent Garden, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as at the base of the Great Pyramids in Egypt and in the ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus theater on the Acropolis in Athens. In addition, the Company has also produced several award-winning films broadcast on PBS and around the world.


Photo: Martha Graham in "Letter to the World (Kick)," 1940. Barbara and Willard Morgan photographs and papers, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA. Used with permission.


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