Martha Graham: A Dancer's Life
Martha Graham, the American dancer, teacher, and choreographer, revolutionized the world of modern dance. She possessed a great gift for revealing emotion through dance, expressing beliefs and telling stories in an utterly new way. Newbery Medalist Russell Freedman documents Martha Graham’s life from her birth in 1894 to her final dance performance at the age of seventy-five and continued career as a choreographer until her death in 1991. Graham’s own recollections as well as those of her dancers, students, friends, and lovers reveal Graham’s unwavering dedication, her extraordinary sense of artistry, and the fierce intensity that left an impression on all who saw her perform. Original research based on interviews and a remarkable collection of photographs not widely reproduced give this biography a rare and unparalleled depth. Includes notes,a bibliography, and an index.
Martha Graham (1894-1991) referred to her dancers as “acrobats of God,” but in truth it was she who seemed divinely inspired. Graham was a dancer, choreographer, and teacher for more than 70 years, and during that time she changed the landscape of dance forever. An unlikely candidate for a dance diva, she was shorter and more muscular than the principal ballet dancers of her time and she didn’t start dancing until age 22—a flower long past her bloom in the eyes of most choreographers. Nonetheless, Graham managed to turn the dance world on its tutu with her innovative approach to movement and teaching and her clear understanding that feelings are not always graceful, but always intense.
Russell Freedman, who won the Newbery Medal in 1988 for Lincoln: A Photobiography and Newbery Honors for The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane (1992) and Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery (1994), has once again crafted a beautiful, intriguing biography. He traces Graham’s remarkable life from a childhood filled with imaginative play, to her decision to attend dance school instead of college, through her departure from the Broadway Follies to pursue her own dance style, and onward through her late life, when she continued teaching and creating distinctive performance pieces. The fascinating biography is complemented by exquisite black-and-white photographs that reveal Graham’s sense of beauty and her remarkable ability to translate pure, raw emotions into expressive movement. Freedman’s lovely tribute makes us fully believe Graham when she says, “I did not choose to be a dancer, I was chosen.” (Young Adult/Adult) —Brangien Davis