Martha Graham Dance Company performs Oct. 22 at ASU

Article Published: Oct. 19, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Martha Graham Dance Company performs Oct. 22 at ASU

Heather McGinley, Sevin Ceviker, Mariya Dashkina Maddux and Jacqueline Bulnes perform in the Martha Graham Dance Company, coming to ASU Oct. 22.

Photo by Costas

Appalachian State University's 2009-10 Performing Arts Series welcomes the Martha Graham Dance Company-the oldest and most celebrated contemporary dance company in America-to the stage of Farthing Auditorium at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22.

Advance tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for Appalachian's students and students 18 and under, and $18 for seniors and ASU faculty and staff. Ticket prices increase at the door on show nights.

For tickets or information, call the Farthing Auditorium box office at (800) 841-ARTS(2787) or (828) 262-4046, or visit

Founded in 1926 by dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, the Martha Graham Dance Company is celebrating its 80th anniversary season by touring a special program chronicling Graham's emergence as a singular artist entitled Prelude and Revolt: Early Masterpieces of American Dance.

A training ground for some of modern dance's most illustrious performers and choreographers, 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 Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as at the base of the Great Pyramids of Egypt and in the ancient Herod Atticus Theatre on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. The company has also produced several award-winning films, broadcast on PBS and around the world.

Martha Graham is widely recognized as a seminal artist of the 20th century, alongside Picasso, Stravinsky, James Joyce and Frank Lloyd Wright. Named the Dancer of the Century (TIME magazine) and one of the female Icons of the Century (People), she was a prolific and complex choreographer. She created 181 ballets and a dance technique that has been compared to ballet in its scope and magnitude.

Born in 1893 in Allegheny, Penn., Graham founded her dance company in 1926, living and working out of a tiny, Carnegie Hall studio in midtown Manhattan. In developing her technique, she experimented endlessly with basic human movement. She began with the most elemental movements of contraction and release, and using these principles as he foundation for her technique, she built a vocabulary of movement that would, in her words, "increase the emotional activity of the dancer's body."

Her dancing and choreography exposed the depths of human emotion through movements that were sharp, angular and direct. Graham's vision forever changed the landscape of the dance world-it continues to be a source of inspiration for dance and theatre artists.

As an artist, and particularly a woman artist, Graham was a rebel in conventional society. From 1929 to 1938, she worked with an all-female company, refining her technique and crafting her approach to choreography. Her work reflected a deep-held belief in human rights. Invited to perform in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, she refused-many of her company members were Jewish, and, she noted "would not be welcome in Germany."
In the late '30s and early '40s, her work explored race, ethnicity and gender, particularly as related to the concept of being "American;" she drew from historical documents, as well as the work of Emily Dickinson to create her choreography. The Greek Cycle followed in the late '40s and '50s, as the explored the mythological journey into the self. Her choreography during this period illuminated hidden recesses of the human psyche and demonstrated her mastery of total world theatre, while making central the experience of the female protagonist.

Graham conceived each of her works in its entirety-dance, costumes and music. During her 70 years of creating dances, she collaborated with artists, such as sculptor Isamu Nogichi, actor/director John Houseman, fashion designers Halston, Donna Karan and Calvin Klein and renowned composers, including Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber and William Schuman. Her company was a future training ground for future modern choreographers Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp. Dancers, such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, were welcomed into her company, and she taught movement to actors, such as Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, Madonna, Liza Minnelli and Joanne Woodward. Graham, herself, danced with the company for more than 40 years.

Graham's uniquely American vision and creative genius earned her numerous awards and honors, including the Medal of Freedom and being named a National Treasure by President Gerald Ford and being designated one of the first recipients of the National Medal of Arts by President Ronald Reagan.

The Martha Graham Dance Company's Oct. 22 performance is a montage of media and live performance capturing Graham's indelible influence on American art. The repertory spans eight decades, showcasing the scope and beauty of Graham's work, from the power and simplicity of the all-woman group works and early solos to the acclaimed classics. Featuring a wide variety of her sources of inspiration, including modern painting, heroic women, the American frontier and Greek mythology, this performance includes sets by Isamu Noguchi, costumes by Martha Graham, Halston and Calvi n Klein and original scores by American composers Aaron Copland, Louis Horst and Henry Cowell.

The tour is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts' American Masterpieces Dance Initiative, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts.

The 2009-10 Performing Arts Series is a presentation of Appalachian State University's Office of Arts and Cultural Programs.

The Performing Arts Series would be unable to present and publicize its wide range of extraordinary programming programming without critical private funding sources, including a group of outstanding sponsors that are dedicated to promoting the arts in our region, including: McDonald's of Boone, Goodnight Brothers Country Ham, Nationwide Insurance- the B. Park Terrell Agency, Inc., Charter Media, The Mountain Times, All About Women magazine, the Winston-Salem Journal, the High Country Press, Oldies 100.7, Mix 102.3, Mountain Television Network, WDAV 89.9, WFDD 88.5, WETS 89.5, WNCW 88.7 and WASURocks 90.5FM.

Hotel and restaurant sponsors include Westglow Resort and Spa and Rowland's Restaurant, Chetola Resort, the Bob Timberlake Inn and the Manor House at Chetola, The Broyhill Inn and Appalachian Conference Center and the Jackson Dining Room, Appalachian Hospitality's six award-winning properties, including the Best Western - Blue Ridge Plaza, The Best Cellar, the Bistro, the Gamekeeper restaurant, Louisiana Purchase, Makoto's Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, Pepper's and the Red Onion Cafe.

Appalachian's Performing Arts Series continues on Nov. 19 with MOMIX illusionist dance theatre, N.Y. Gilbert & Sullivan Players' The Pirates of Penzance (Jan. 22) and Lily Tomlin (Feb. 20). For tickets or information, call the Farthing Auditorium box office at (800) 841-ARTS(2787) or (828) 262-4046, or visit

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