May 11, 2013 - Happy Birthday, Martha Graham

She is considered by some the Picasso of Dance!

Martha Graham (who was born on this date in 1894) helped to create a new era in modern dance. Modern dance rejects some of the rigid choreography and costuming of traditional ballet and focuses more on torso movements. It's also known for occasionally using distinctly non-ballet feet with flexed, not pointed, toes.

Oh, and (often) dancers dancing with bare feet!

Here are some impressive facts about Graham:

  • She danced and choreographed for more than seventy years!

  • She was the first dancer ever to perform at the White House.

  • She received the highest non-military award of the U.S., the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

  • She received the Key to the City of Paris and Japan's Imperial Order of the Precious Crown.

  • She was named Dancer of the Century by People magazine.

An amazing quote from Graham:

If you want to be great, but you're not sure you are, or that you ever will be, remember what Martha Graham told another dancer:

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open....

No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching....”

The Google Doodle from two years ago portrays some of the "feel" of Graham's choreography.

Here is a video of a Graham-choreographed dance.  

Plan Ahead...

Check out my Pinterest boards of May holidays, historical events in May, and May birthdays.

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the first printed book (maybe)

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