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Martha Graham - An American Original in Performance
Martha Graham - An American Original in Performance
Actors: Robert Cohan, Martha Graham, Bertram Ross, Paul Taylor
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
NR     2002     1hr 33min

A true pioneer in the world of dance, Martha Graham became an American legend. She was a fearless explorer and a passionate artist, and she exemplified the American spirit in it's truest form. The program is in three parts...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Robert Cohan, Martha Graham, Bertram Ross, Paul Taylor
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Dance, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Studio: Kultur Video
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 07/30/2002
Theatrical Release Date: 07/09/2002
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 33min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Martha Graham is always breathtaking
Dr. Lee D. Carlson | Baltimore, Maryland USA | 08/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This videotape is a tribute to one of the greatest dancers and choreographers of the 20th century. It is done in black and white and actually, this makes it even better, for it serves to concentrate attention on the dance forms and the many abstractions that so characterize the Graham technique. There are three parts of the tape: 1. "A Dancer's World", which is 30-minutes long and shows Graham and her company demonstrating dance expression and techniques. Viewers can see Graham in the dressing room, in the studio, and dancing herself. 2. "Night Journey", which is my all time favorite piece by Graham. Graham dances the part of Jocasta, Paul Taylor as Tiresais, and Bertram Ross as Oedipus. 3. "Appalachian Spring", which is the most popular of Graham's works, is accompanied by the music of Aaron Copland. All of the parts exemplify the mystery and majesty of this pioneer of modern dance. Graham is unrelenting in her expression, things are never subtle in her dances, and she always (delightfully) comes across with an overabundance of passion. Given the length of time she actually performend on stage, one can only feel a deep sense of respect and awe at this incredible woman."
Poor DVD transfer!
Dr. Lee D. Carlson | 12/27/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)

"While it's wonderful to have this document of some of Martha Graham's most famous work available on DVD, something must have gone awry in the digital transfer. There are a number of moments in "Appalachian Spring," for example, where the visual image suddenly slows down for a few seconds, and then slips into a sort of "fast forward" mode to catch back up to the music. I don't believe this can be a flaw in only my copy.These problems didn't exist in the wonderful 1995 Voyager release on laser disc of the same films, "Martha Graham Dance on Film." And unfortunately the added features and commentaries included on the laser disc (audio commentaries, interviews with some of Graham's dancers, and with Aaron Copland, etc.) didn't make it to the DVD. Too bad!"
Dance as the Hidden Language of the Soul
Nicholas Croft | New York | 07/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Martha Graham is commonly recognized as one of the most important contributors to the art of American dance during this past century. She realized significant innovations in the fields of choreography, dance performance, lighting, stage design, costuming and also commissioned new music from contemporary composers for her various works.

Graham was born in Pennsylvania in 1894. In 1910, she witnessed a performance by Ruth Saint-Denis and decided that she wanted to become a dancer. After some preliminary theater and dance studies at the University of Cumnoch, in 1916 Graham enrolled in the Denishawn School, run by Ruth Saint-Denis and Ted Shawn. For the next eight years, Graham thrived at Denishawn as both a student and an instructor. The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance was opened in 1926 and by 1939, her modern dance company began touring the United States and Cuba. After some thirty years of prolific activity, at the age 76, Martha Graham announced her retirement from the performance stage.

This Kultur DVD, "Martha Graham: In Performance", features three works choreographed specifically for black and white film camera during the years 1957, 1961 and 1958. It begins with a 30-minute demonstration film, "A Dancer's World", where Ms. Graham introduces the viewer to her company and gives an intimate glimpse into the exercises that precede the performance of a dance piece.

Next come "Night Journey" and "Appalachian Spring", two different works of "dance for camera". Alexander Hammid, a husband of experimental filmmaker Maya Deren, directed "Night Journey". The camera is used as an integral component of the stage choreography; with different viewing angles and camera positions only being possible by staging particular short sequences within the choreography, then editing the segments together to form a smoothly flowing whole. "Appalachian Spring" is a cinematic interpretation for Graham's choreography of a Quaker wedding. It will likely remain as one of her best-remembered works.

All three films document well the signature Graham dance style that consists of abrupt contraction and release of different parts of the body; the intimate relation of the dancer's breathing to emotion and movement; positions of austere, angular body line; and close dancer proximity to the ground.

"Martha Graham: In Performance" is a film document of significant historical importance. Any self-respecting fan of dance should own a copy of this DVD to aid in their personal study, and reflection on, one of the great artist's of our time."
Andrew Olivo | 03/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The two dances and one personal account of a dancer's world included in this hour and a half long vido were amazing. Anyone who has heard of Martha Graham's revolutionary dancing but has never seen any of her work should see this- it is truly spectacular."