Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)
The most influential dancer of the twentieth century, Martha Graham (1894-1991) almost didn’t become one. Her parents were strict Presbyterians who didn’t support her studying dance; it was only after her father passed away that she enrolled at the innovative Denishawn School of Dancing and Related Arts in Los Angeles. At the age of twenty-two she opened her own studio in Manhattan, the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance. She choreographed and debuted her first independent concert that same year. Graham’s style ushered in a new era of dance, creating a method dubbed “the Graham technique,” which taught dancers to magnify expressive and dramatic motions with their bodies.
Teaching and dancing for over sixty years, Graham choreographed nearly a hundred dances, and her influence was international. She was the first dancer to perform at the White House; she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Key to the City of Paris, and Japan’s Imperial Order of the Precious Crown. Graham was so in love with dance that she last performed at the age of seventy-six. Her devotion to education inspired students like Alvin Ailey and Twyla Tharp, who would build on her legacy. With her unique talent for expressing emotion through her body, Graham changed the direction of dance forever.