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The Martha Graham School Presents "Teens Dance Graham"

The Martha Graham School Presents "Teens Dance Graham"


The Martha Graham School


Martha Graham Studio Theater
55 Bethune Street, 11th Floor
Manhattan, NY


Friday, May 10, 2024 - 7:00pm
Saturday, May 11, 2024 - 1:00pm, 5:00pm



The Martha Graham School

The Martha Graham School Presents Teens Dance Graham

Featuring Teens@Graham, Students from LaGuardia High School, and Graham 2

May 10 – 11, 2024

New York, NY, April 30, 2024 – The Teens Dance Graham program will feature some of Martha Graham’s great modernist innovations in performances by the Teens@Graham in Our Own American Document and Panorama, students from LaGuardia High School in Ritual to the Sun, and Graham 2 in Heretic. The program will be presented on Friday, May 10, at 7pm and Saturday May 11, at 1pm and 5pm, at the Martha Graham Studio Theater, 55 Bethune Street, 11th Floor, in Manhattan.

The Teens@Graham dancers will present Our Own American Document. This two-part offering was created by students in response to Graham’s 1938 work American Document in which she asked, What is an American? In her creation, Graham included spoken text excerpts from important American texts like the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address to the Emancipation Proclamation and a letter from Seneca chief Red Jacket. The work was an exploration of democracy and American identity. For Our Own American Document students under the guidance of guest artist Johnnie Cruise Mercer chose texts and developed dances to express their own American experience. The first section, which includes video interviews, movement explorations, and audience participation, will be shared at the Studio Series. The second part will be shared at Teens Take the Met on May 31. The collaborative curriculum is co-written by Mercer and Cynthia Stanley.

The Teens@Graham will also be joined by teens from all over the New York City metropolitan area who make up this year’s cast of the All-City Panorama Project. This team of 25 students will dance Graham’s powerful Panorama, which was choreographed in 1935 in response to the rise of fascism in Europe. With a theme of the power of people to make change, Panorama is a stunning example of 1930s modernism in which the architecture of the choreography delivers the emotional message. The studio performance is staged by Teens@Graham Program Director Amélie Benard.

The program also features students from LaGuardia High School in Ritual to the Sun, the final section of Graham’s 1981 work Acts of Light. Called “startling in its simplicity” by The New York Times, the dance introduced a new period in Graham’s work in which she showed less emphasis on theatrical elements. An ode to the Graham classroom technique, Ritual to the Sun is staged by former Company leading dancer Tadej Brdnik.

Graham 2, the Martha Graham Dance Company’s acclaimed second company, will perform Graham’s stark work Heretic, staged by Graham 2 director Virginie Mécène. Set to a Breton folk tune, Heretic premiered at New York City’s Booth Theater in 1929 and has been called Graham’s first great modern masterwork.

Tickets for the Teens Dance Graham Studio Series program are $30 (general) / $20 (students) and are available at https://marthagraham.org/studioseries/.


About Our Own American Document

As part of GRAHAM 100, the Martha Graham School is producing a national curriculum for educators, Our Own American Document, co-created by former Graham dancer, choreographer, and educator Cynthia Stanley and choreographer and educator Johnnie Cruise Mercer. This facilitator’s guide, supported by in-person and online professional development, leads students through choreographic prompts based on American Document, created by Graham in 1938. Little remains of the original choreography, but the themes resonate anew with today’s conversations about race, gender, nationalism, and how we see ourselves and our personal legacies as part of the evolving American story. 


About the Artists/Educators

Johnnie Cruise Mercer, a 2022 Dance Magazine Harkness Promise Award Recipient and a 2021 Princess Grace Award Recipient (Choreography), is a queer-Black think-maker, a choreographer, educator, and producer based in Brooklyn. A native of Richmond, VA, Mercer holds a BFA in dance and choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the founding producer and director of TheREDprojectNYC (TRPNYC), a multidisciplinary ensemble of artists dedicated to movement philosophy and its use towards building communal spaces for Black/other process, documentation, and investigation. Mercer’s choreographic work has been presented at Dixon Place, Danspace Project, The Fusebox Festival, BAAD!, Abrons Arts Center, La MaMa, and the Clarice Performing Arts Center’s BlackLight Summit, among other venues. As an educator, he specializes in K-12 and pre-collegiate development focusing on history and movement’s uses in building collaborative work/community. He has facilitated/taught within the New York City public school system through The Leadership Program, Movement Research’s Dance Maker’s Program, and through Ping Chong and Company’s Secret Histories Educational Program.


Cynthia Anne Stanley is a New York-based teacher, choreographer, and writer. She trained at Stapleton School of Performing Arts, San Francisco Ballet, and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Stanley received her BFA in dance performance at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, earning the ‘Dancer of Excellence’ award. She has choreographed and taught for the Martha Graham School and Graham 2, Dallas Contemporary Ballet, Bardos Ballet Theater, Stapleton Youth Company, Talent Unlimited, and other performing art schools. She has also choreographed for commercials, music videos, and short films. Most recent collaborations are co-creating with director Theodore Stanley, the VR film Mantle with Martha Graham dancers for Barneys New York’s 2019 spring campaign, choreographing for CNN’s 50th anniversary with Snoop Dogg, and choreographing Kaki King's upcoming show SEI. Stanley is currently writing and developing Our Own American Document, a dance/writing outreach curriculum for the Martha Graham School with co-writer Johnnie Cruise Mercer. This project will be launched with the company’s celebration of its 100th anniversary in 2026, and in tandem with the country’s 250th anniversary. 

About the Martha Graham School

The Martha Graham School is the oldest professional school of dance in the United States and the only one primarily focused on the Martha Graham Technique and repertory. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance, the School offers programming from pre-teens to professional levels. Classes are taught by current and former members of the Martha Graham Dance Company, and who trained with Martha Graham herself or with her first generation acolytes. Students studying at the Martha Graham School have moved on to professional dance careers with the Martha Graham Dance Company, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Jose Limón Dance Company, the Buglisi Dance Theatre, Rioult, and Battery Dance Company, as well as on Broadway and with other companies around the world. Ashley Brown is the director of the Martha Graham School.


Photo by Melissa Sherwood


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