Martha Graham Archives acquired by the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of NYPL

Martha Graham in “Cave of the Heart,” around 1946. Cris Alexander, via Martha Graham Resources, a division of the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, Inc

“Graham (1894-1991) was complicated; like many artists, she didn’t want to look toward the past. “The only thing we have is the now,” she wrote in “Blood Memory,” her autobiography. She added: “Looking at the past is like lolling in a rocking chair. It is so relaxing and you can rock back and forth on the porch, and never go forward. It is not for me.”
But was it true? Janet Eilber, the company’s artistic director and a former dancer, said Graham was involved with documentation of her work on film in the 1950s and also reconstructed her dances and directed company members in the classic roles. “So she was very much involved in perpetuating her own legacy,” Ms. Eilber said. “But the other stance is so much more theatrical and provocative.”
And no matter what Graham said, she did pay attention to her past. The archive, which consists mainly of paper-based material, photographs and films — the company’s sets and costumes, most of which are stored in a warehouse in Yonkers, are still in use — includes rare footage of Graham dancing at the height of her power in works like “Appalachian Spring” and “Hérodiade” (1944); her script for “Night Journey” (1947), written to its composer, William Schuman; her handwritten notes for “American Document” (1938); and Isamu Noguchi’s set drawing with his notes for “Seraphic Dialogue” (1955).”

-Gia Kourlas for the New York Times May 11, 2020

Read the entire article HERE</a>