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The Most Influential Women in Dance History: An opinion piece on the two most influential women in the world of dance.

Martha Graham is a name that radiates legacy in the dance world, even to this day. Despite the many influential women in dance, Graham will always be the most prominent in my eyes.

Graham was announced “Dancer of the Century” by TIME magazine and a female “Icon of the Century” by People magazine. The dancer and choreographer revolutionized an art form all her own by creating the bridge between ballet and modern dance. According to the Martha Graham website, Graham’s “innovative physical vocabulary has irrevocably influenced dance worldwide.”

Graham founded her dance company and school in Manhattan, eventually creating the foundation of her technique, as Graham said, to “increase the emotional activity of the dancer’s body.” She transformed modern dance into sharp, direct, angular and jagged movements. To this day, Graham’s style is an inspiration to dancers and choreographers throughout the world. One can only truly understand the impact of Graham once they have danced her movements or have seen them performed.

Graham’s technique is so influential to me because it brings such fond memories of my mother, the second influential woman that I would like to mention in this article. My mom has been dancing ever since she was a little girl. In her adult years, she became a professional dancer, dancing in multiple companies and travelling around the United States.

She was a very accomplished dancer and choreographer in New York, but gave up that life to raise my sister and I. Despite this, she never gave up her love for the art. She inspired my sister and I’s love for dance. While Rehoboth Beach, Delaware doesn’t provide her with the same opportunities as New York did, she created a path for herself, inspiring many young girls along the way.

As a dance teacher, she taught us a variety of Graham’s techniques. She taught us how to contract and move in the depths of the human emotion, just as Graham intended. While my mother may not be one of the greatest influences in dance history, she has been so impactful to me and my love for the art.

Women’s history month is not only about the big names and influences that change everyone, but the less notable women that may change only one life. I know that my mother could have been tremendously successful if she continued her journey as a dancer and choreographer, but instead, she chose a different path. She chose a path as a mother. She chose a path with me in it. For that, I will be forever inspired by her courage and strength. She has showed me what it means to sacrifice what you love, but to always find a way to keep dancing.

Source: Martha Graham Website

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