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MARTHA GRAHAM is recognized as a primal artistic force of the 20th century alongside Picasso, Stravinsky, James Joyce, and Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1998 Time magazine named Martha Graham the "Dancer of the Century," and People magazine named her among the female "Icons of the Century." As a choreographer, she was as prolific as she was complex. She created 181 ballets and a dance technique that has been compared to ballet in its scope and magnitude. Many of the great modern and ballet choreographers have studied the Martha Graham Technique or have been members of her company.
Martha Graham's extraordinary artistic legacy has often been compared to Stanislavsky's Art Theatre in Moscow and the Grand Kabuki Theatre of Japan for its diversity and breadth. Her legacy is perpetuated in performance by the members of the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Martha Graham Ensemble, and by the students of the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance.
In 1926 Martha Graham founded her dance company and school, living and working out of a tiny Carnegie Hall studio in midtown Manhattan. In developing her technique, Martha Graham experimented endlessly with basic human movement, beginning with the most elemental movements of contraction and release. Using these principles as the foundation for her technique, she built a vocabulary of movement that would "increase the emotional activity of the dancer's body." Martha Graham's dancing and choreography exposed the depths of human emotion through movements that were sharp, angular, jagged, and direct. The dance world was forever altered by Martha Graham's vision, which has been and continues to be a source of inspiration for generations of dance and theatre artists.
Martha 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: Clytem-nestra, 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, Martha Graham 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 Aaron Copland, Louis Horst (her mentor), Samuel Barber, William Schuman, Carlos Surinach, Norman Dello Joio, and Gian Carlo Menotti. Her company was the training ground for many future modern choreographers, including Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp. She created roles for classical ballet stars such as Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov, welcoming them as guests into her company. In charge
of movement and dance at the Neighborhood Playhouse, she taught actors including Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, Madonna, Liza Minnelli, Gregory Peck, Tony Randall, Anne Jackson, and Joanne Woodward how to use the body as an expressive instrument.
Her uniquely American vision and creative genius earned her numerous honors and awards such as the Laurel Leaf 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 upon Martha Graham the United States' highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, and declared her a "national treasure," making her the first dancer and choreographer to receive this honor. Another Presidential honor was awarded Martha Graham in 1985 when President Ronald Reagan designated her among the first recipients of the United States National Medal of Arts.
Founded in 1926 by dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, the MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY is the oldest and most celebrated contemporary dance company in America.
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, 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 of Egypt and in the ancient Herodes Atticus Theatre on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. In addition, the Company has also produced several award-winning films broadcast on PBS and around the world.
Martha Graham choreographed 181 works in her lifetime. Among these are such well-known ballets as Heretic (1929), Lamentation (1930), Primitive Mysteries (1931), Frontier (1935), Deep Song (1937), El Penitente (1940), Letter to the World (1940), Deaths and Entrances (1943), Appalachian Spring (1944), Cave of the Heart (1946), Errand into the Maze (1947), Night Journey (1947), Diversion of Angels (1948), Seraphic Dialogue (1955), Clytemnestra (1958), Embattled Garden (1958), Phaedra (1962), Frescoes (1978), Acts of Light (1981), The Rite of Spring (1984), Temptations of the Moon (1986), and Maple Leaf Rag (1990).
Though Martha Graham herself is the best-known alumna of her company, having danced from the Company's inception until the late 1960s, the Company has provided a training ground for some of modern dance's most illustrious performers and choreographers. Former members of the Company include Merce Cunning-ham, Erick Hawkins, Pearl Lang, Elisa Monte, Paul Taylor, Glen Tetley, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Donlin Foreman, and Pascal Rioult. Among celebrities who have joined the Company in performance are Mikhail Baryshnikov, Claire Bloom, Margot Fonteyn, Liza Minnelli, Rudolf Nureyev, Maya Plisetskaya, and Kathleen Turner. The Martha Graham Dance Company has commissioned works from Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, Susan Stroman, Lucinda Childs, and Maurice Béjart, which have been enthusiastically received by audiences and critics worldwide. The Martha Graham Dance Company even numbers among its alumnae one Betty Bloomer, who, after dancing with the Company in 1938, became better known as First Lady Betty Ford.
"One of the great companies of the world," according to Anna Kisselgoff, dance critic-in-chief of The New York Times, the Martha Graham Dance Company has been lauded by critics throughout the world. Alan M. Kriegsman of the Washington Post referred to the Company as "one of the seven wonders of the artistic universe," while Los Angeles Times critic Martin Bernheimer noted, "They seem able to do anything, and to make it look easy as well as poetic." Ismene Brown of The Daily Telegraph, London, touted the Martha Graham Dance Company's performance as "Unmissable," and for Donald Richie of Japan Times these dancers were "Graham's perfect instrument."
The standard of artistic excellence established by Martha Graham continues through the work of Artistic Directors Christine Dakin and Terese Capucilli. With a combined 30 years experience under Martha Graham's hand, fused with knowledge from the generations before their own, they unite and focus the talent and passion of today's dancers. They embody the unbroken line between Martha Graham's company while she lived and its life now and into the future. Sustaining Martha Graham's choreography and technique, the Martha Graham Dance Company dedicates itself to exploring and revealing Martha Graham's theater in new dimensions and to new audiences.
TERESE CAPUCILLI (Artistic Director, Principal Dancer) has a 25-year history with the Company. She is known for her interpretation of the classic roles originated by Martha Graham, who coached and directed Capucilli in Night Journey (Jocasta), Appalachian Spring (The Bride), Deaths and Entrances (Principal Sister), Cortege of Eagles (Hecuba), Episodes (Mary Queen of Scots), Cave of the Heart (Medea), the title roles in Hérodiade, Phaedra, Heretic and Judith, and many others. Roles created for Capucilli include The Chosen One in The Rite of Spring, Crescent Moon in Temptations of the Moon, and the lead role in Graham's final ballet, Maple Leaf Rag. Capucilli has been partnered by Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov in a number of Graham classics and since 1991 has had 11 roles created for her. Capucilli holds a BFA from Purchase College, State University of New York, and is on the faculty of the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance and the Juilliard School, and she has taught and choreographed for the Edinburgh Festival Education Program. Capucilli is the recipient of a fellowship from the Princess Grace Foundation-U.S.A., the Princess Grace Statuette Award, and the 2001 Dance Magazine Award.
CHRISTINE DAKIN (Artistic Director, Principal Dancer), a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company since 1976, is renowned for her performance of Martha Graham's roles in the classic works Appalachian Spring, Cave of the Heart, Deep Song, Night Journey, Errand into the Maze, and Dark Meadow, and is one of six dancers since Martha Graham to perform the title role in Clytemnestra. Martha Graham created roles for her in The Rite of Spring and Phaedra's Dream, in which she was partnered by Rudolf Nureyev at the Paris and Berlin Operas and at the State Theater in New York. Guest choreographers Twyla Tharp and Robert Wilson created dancing and speaking roles for her in Demeter and Persephone and Snow on the Mesa. A widely recognized performer, teacher, and scholar, Dakin was a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Senior Scholar in 1999 and was awarded Rockefeller Grants for choreography, research, and teaching in 1988 and 1991. She has been a guest artist and teacher since 1981 with the Ballet Nacional de México and has received grants from the USIA and ArtsLink for research in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Vladivostok, Siberia. She is the recipient of the University of Michigan Alumni Award and an honorary doctorate from Shenandoah University. She is on the faculties of the Juilliard School and the Martha Graham School.
TADEJ BRDNIK (Principal Dancer) began his professional dance career with Dance Theater Aldea in Slovenia. In New York he has danced with Coyote Dancers, Battery Dance Company, Avila/Weeks Dance, White Oak Dance Project, Robert Wilson, and Pick Up Performance Company, among others. He has taught extensively in the United States, Slovenia, the U.K., and Scandinavia and is on the faculty of the Martha Graham School, where he directs the Young Artists Program. He is a recipient of the Benetton Dance Award and the Eugene Loring Award. He has been with the Martha Graham Dance Company since 1996.
KATHERINE CROCKETT (Principal Dancer) attended Ballet Metropolitan, SUNY Purchase, and the Martha Graham School before joining the Company in 1993. She was a soloist in 1994 and became a principal in 1996, starring in works of Robert Wilson, Lucinda Childs, and Susan Stroman and in Richard Move's Achilles Heels with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Plácido Domingo's Aida. Her performance of Lamentation was filmed for the BBC and was featured by Vanessa Redgrave in the Return Festival in Kosovo. She also performs with Richard Move nationwide in Martha@….
JENNIFER DePALO-RIVERA (Dancer) happily returns to the Martha Graham Dance Company after a three-year leave during which she performed as a principal for Ballet Hispanico. She is also a principal for Buglisi/Foreman Dance. Ms. DePalo-Rivera is an honored recipient of the Princess Grace Award for Artistic Excellence.
CARRIE ELLMORE-TALLITSCH (Dancer) began dancing in her native state of Virginia. Ellmore-Tallitsch
has danced with Dayton Contemporary Dance's second company, Philadanco, and Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre. This is her second season with the Martha Graham Dance Company. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
CHRISTOPHE JEANNOT (Soloist) is a native of France. He received a grant from the French Ministry of Culture to study at the Martha Graham School in 1997. He later joined the Martha Graham Ensemble and became a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1998.
MIKI ORIHARA (Principal Dancer) joined the company in 1987 and became a principal in 1998. She has performed with companies and choreographers such as Yuriko, Elisa Monte, Jun Kono Dance Troupe (Japan), Twyla Tharp, and Robert Wilson. She was a special guest artist for Japan's New National Theater in 2001. Her own works have been premiered in New York and Tokyo. Orihara has taught workshops in Japan, Arts International in Moscow, Peridance, the Ailey School, New York University, and Florida State University. She performs with Buglisi/Foreman Dance and teaches at the Martha Graham School.
FANG-YI SHEU (Principal Dancer), a native of Taiwan, received her BFA in dance from the National Institute of the Arts in Taipei, where she studied Martha Graham Technique with Ross Parkes. Sheu received a full scholarship from the National Endowment for Culture and Arts of Taiwan and the Martha Graham School in 1994 and joined the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1995. She was a principal dancer with Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan from 1998 to 2001 and also has danced with Monte/Brown Dance Company and Buglisi/Foreman Dance.
YUKO SUZUKI (Dancer), from Japan, joined the Martha Graham Dance Company in 2002. She has danced with the Martha Graham Ensemble, Battery Dance Company, Lori Belilove & Company, Dance Ensemble of Singapore, New York Theater Ballet, and Inoue Ballet (Tokyo) and with various individual choreographers.
BLAKELEY WHITE-MCGUIRE (Dancer) of Louisiana has performed and taught dance throughout the U.S. and abroad with such companies as the Metropolitan Opera, Sean Curran Company, Pascal Rioult Dance Theater, and Richard Move. She has served on the faculties of the Ailey School and the Actors' Studio at New School University.