Related Features


Your support helps us cover dance in New York City and beyond! Donate now.

DANCE NEWS: Get Enthused for "GRAHAM100," a Three-Season Celebration of Martha Graham Dance Company's 100th Anniversary

DANCE NEWS: Get Enthused for "GRAHAM100," a Three-Season Celebration of Martha Graham Dance Company's 100th Anniversary

Published on June 9, 2023
"Dark Meadow Suite"; photo by Brigid Pierce

The Martha Graham Dance Company announces GRAHAM100—The First and The Future, a three-season 100th anniversary celebration of Martha Graham’s work and legacy to begin September 2023 and continue throughout 2026.

Known as one of the most influential forces of the 20th century, Martha Graham presented her first performance with a supporting group of dancers on April 18, 1926. Since that date, considered to be the launch of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Graham’s groundbreaking and uniquely American style of dance has influenced generations of artists and continues to captivate audiences worldwide. To celebrate its Centennial, the Company is organizing an extensive series of programs and events exploring the diversity and depth of Graham’s extraordinary artistic legacy. GRAHAM100 will feature performances, new productions, exhibitions, film screenings, publications, discussions, and educational activities that build on the Company’s legacy of innovation and its present and future vision based on this incomparable legacy.

Janet Eilber, Artistic Director, Martha Graham Dance Company, says: “We are proud to be the oldest dance company in the United States but have discovered that a celebration encompassing 100 years of artistic innovation informed by vast social, political, and technological change, needs a broader canvas than one season can provide! Three seasons will allow us to curate and organize this unmatched American legacy in ways that highlight not only the Company’s timeline of firsts and its historic impact but perhaps more importantly, its continuing relevance and influence.” 

Executive Director LaRue Allen says: “The 100th anniversary of the Martha Graham Dance Company is more than a red-letter day for Graham—the entire field of American modern dance has reason to celebrate. In an art form known for its ephemeral nature, the continuing success of the Graham Company shows that modern dance can be sustained, that it can evolve and remain relevant to successive generations.”

The Company will present three New York City seasons and tour internationally during the anniversary. Each season will feature Graham masterworks along with works by some of today’s most exciting contemporary choreographers. Several programs and initiatives will span all three seasons illuminating the through-line from Martha Graham’s revolutionary break with 19th-century dance to the current Company’s 21st-century vision. The growing list includes a documentary in development with PBS, a new book of photography, an exhibition at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, new recordings of the great scores written for Graham, an annual opera collaboration, a national lesson plan based on a Graham classic, and creative partnerships and licensing by professional companies and universities worldwide.

Xin Ying and Lloyd Knight in Martha Graham’s Maple Leaf Rag; photo by Hibbard Nash Photography

The First Season:

The 2023–24 season, American Legacies, will focus on Martha Graham’s social activism, Americana, modernism, and her artistic collaborators. Main stage performances will include Graham classics such as Appalachian Spring (1944), Dark Meadow (1946), and Maple Leaf Rag (1990). The diversity of Graham’s collaborators on these works of Americana will be central to conversations convened to discuss their origins and the changing ways they are viewed by contemporary audiences.

New commissions will extend the exploration of American themes with two additions to the repertory. The Company will present a brand-new production of Agnes DeMille’s 1942 classic, Rodeo, with Aaron Copland’s iconic score reorchestrated for a six-piece bluegrass ensemble by the multi-instrumentalist and composer/arranger Gabe Witcher, opening conversations about the Black origins of that musical form. The work is co-commissioned by The Soraya at California State University, Northridge, and will premiere there on September 30, 2023—the launch of GRAHAM100. A longtime creative partner and supporter, The Soraya will collaborate with the Company on all three anniversary seasons.

A new work for the Company by Jamar Roberts, who has created works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, San Francisco Ballet, and others, with a commissioned score by Grammy-winning composer Rhiannon Giddens, will be presented in tandem with Rodeo on tour and as part of the Company’s New York season at NY City Center, April 17–24, 2024.

Rodeo and the new work by Jamar Roberts are co-commissioned by the 92nd Street Y as part of its 150th anniversary celebration, and in honor and continued support of Martha Graham’s rich 92NY legacy. The Y will be partnering with the Company on events that expand our understanding of American dance and music, including panel conversations about iconic works of 20th-century dance and how we view them today. 

MetLiveArts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will launch its series this fall with performances of some of Graham’s most powerful solos from the 1930s. The works will be presented throughout the galleries in dialogue with the exhibition Art for the Millions: American Culture and Politics in the 1930s, Works include Lamentation (1930), Ekstasis (1933), Spectre-1914 (1936), Immediate Tragedy (1937), and Deep Song (1937).

The Company’s touring throughout 2023–24 includes performances in 13 cities across the U.S. and engagements in Spain, Italy, and Germany. The Company’s popular Studio Series, which offers audiences a behind-the-scenes look at the work of the Company in the intimate Martha Graham Studio Theater, will return this fall.

Leslie Andrea Williams in Martha Graham’s Spectre-1914 from Chronicle; photo by Brian Pollock

Second and Third Seasons:

GRAHAM100 continues in 2024–25 curated under the theme, Dances of the Mind, focusing on Graham’s psychological works, multifaceted women characters, and longtime artistic partnership with renowned visual artist Isamu Noguchi. Works to be presented—including Phaedra (1962), Errand into the Maze (1947), and Herodiade (1944)—foreground Graham’s command of complex ideas illustrated in movement and augmented with modernist sets and original scores. Graham’s long and fruitful collaboration with Noguchi will be explored on stage and in audience engagement activities.

The 2025–26 season, aligned with the national celebration America250, is titled The Masterpieces. Curated around the question “What is an American?” from Graham’s 1939 work American Document, the season focuses on Graham’s greatest works including Cave of the Heart (1946), Night Journey (1947), Chronicle (1936), and Primitive Mysteries (1931), and will include commissions and the culmination of many of the ongoing projects.

Marzia Memoli, Lloyd Knight, Anne Souder and Xin Ying in Martha Graham’s Cave of the Heart; photo by Melissa Sherwood

Other GRAHAM100 highlights:

Two programs that support commissions by professional companies and universities will be offered. The international Lamentations Variations Project invites organizations to commission new Lamentation Variations, short dances inspired by Graham’s iconic 1930 solo Lamentation, for their dancers. A digital showcase of these Graham-inspired selections will be part of the three-year celebration. GrahamEverywhere extends an invitation to dance groups performing at many levels to license Graham classics. The resulting performances will be presented in a digital festival hosted by the Company.

The Company is also producing a national lesson plan for teachers, Our Own American Document, created by education specialist Cynthia Stanley. This instruction guide, supported by in-person and online professional development, leads students through the process of creating a dance based on American Document, choreographed by Graham in 1939. 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. 

A documentary about the current Graham Company is in development with seven-time Emmy Award-winning documentarian Peter Schnall and Partisan Pictures with initial production support from PBS. The documentary team has begun filming and is joining the Company on tour in the coming season. The film is slated to premiere in the 2025–26 season.

The Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library has announced that the 2023–24 cycle of the Dance Research Fellowship will be dedicated to Martha Graham, with six awardees receiving funding to investigate various aspects of the Graham legacy and explore the recently acquired Graham archives. The Dance Division will schedule free programming throughout the anniversary period and is planning a comprehensive Graham exhibition at the Library for the Performing Arts in 2026.

A three-season partnership between the Company and Long Beach Opera explores a deeper connection between dance and opera. These projects will feature Graham dancers and draw on the Graham physical vocabulary in new ways. As a precursor, the first work, The Feast, with music of G.F. Handel based on his seldom-staged opera Alessandro and starring superstar countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński was presented in May 2023.

The Company’s longtime partner, the music ensemble Wild Up and conductor Christopher Roundtree, are creating new recordings of many of the musical scores written for Graham. Commissioned by The Soraya, these state-of-the-art recordings will be released throughout the three seasons of GRAHAM100.

A new coffee table book from Deborah Ory and Ken Browar, known as NYC Dance Project, will be published by Black Dog & Leventhal and will feature the current Graham dancers along with archival photos from the past 100 years. It will be released in fall 2025.

An updated schedule of programs, partnerships, and engagements will be announced.

The Dance Enthusiast Shares news from the dance world and creates conversation.
For more Dance News pieces, click here.
If you have important news to share, please send announcements or press release to!

The Dance Enthusiast - News, Reviews, Interviews and an Open Invitation for YOU to join the Dance Conversation.

Related Features

View More Features