Martha Graham: A Dancer's Life

by Russell Freedman

Martha Graham's life and work as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer helped... read more

Martha Graham's life and work as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer helped shape and define American dance in the 20th century. In a way like no one before her had, Graham explored how dance could express the raw emotion, passion and delight of human experience, and she created works that were drawn deeply from the space where intellect and emotion combined. Russell Freedman's understanding of that space, and the unquestioned drive that compels an artist to create, defines this portrait of the dancer. The text moves easily from sketches of Graham's life off the stage to explanations of her dancing philosophy to descriptions of her groundbreaking, energizing performances. The result is a book giving young readers a sense of the ordinary and the extraordinary, the knowledge of Graham as an driven artist who also sewed her own costumes when there was no money for help, and whose heart could reach out B or break B just like anyone else's. Dramatic black-and-white photographs of Graham performing add to the artistry of the book as a whole while powerfully illustrating the intense emotional elements of Graham's work. Together, the text and photos provide a rich introduction to the deep layers of meaning in Graham's dances. Additional photographs show Graham in aspects of her life off the stage and behind the scenes and include a remarkable picture of Helen Keller among the dancers in Graham's studio, her face a study in joy as she feels the rhythm and movement of dance. This well-researched , well-documented biography will speak to the artist, the visionary, the dreamer and the doer in many young adults. (Ages 12-16)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1998

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