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Chris Hadfield
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How a Dancer Raised to Believe Dance was a Sin Revolutionized the Artform

Every field has its revolutionaries – dance is no different. 

Martha Graham, 1919. Image: Picryl

Martha Graham, along with Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Hanya Holm, has been recognized a one of the 'big four' founders of American modern dance. For 70 years she dedicated her life to the art form, first as a performer and later as a choreographer. She ran a dance company and received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and National Medal of Arts. In 2015, Graham was posthumously inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.


Life threw her a curve ball early on: Graham was born into a religious family where dance was viewed as a sin – but she still found her way to it when she attended the performance of famous dancer Ruth Saint Denis. It was a day that changed her life. Since then Graham aspired to be a dancer. In 1913, she was allowed to enroll in the Cumnock School of Expression, an experimental college in Los Angeles. In following years, she studied at the Denishawn School; that was founded by Ruth Saint Denis and Ted Shawn.

At the beginning of the 20th century, dance belonged to entertainment; it was part of vaudevilles, fancy shows, and balls. Only a ballet had the status of high art. Graham did not want to be seen as a cabaret girl – she was an artist.

Gender stereotypes of the time implied that men were cerebral, and women were emotional. Therefore, in dance, men express themselves by inching and straight movements, while women swayed in a smooth motion, following curved trajectories. Graham broke this delineation, and stated that she did "not want to be a tree, a flower or a wave." In her dance, she withdrew from the standard view of femininity. She made her characters impersonal, strong, and even masculine. The movements based on the opposition between contraction and release were coined 'Graham technique', and now that technique is taught worldwide.

See the full collection of Martha Graham images on Picryl, the largest public domain search engine.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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4 ways to promote neurogenesis in your brain

How can we promote the creation of new neurons - and why is it so important?

We can promote the development of new neurons well into adulthood - and here's why we should.

Image by vrx on Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • Neurogenesis, the birth of neurons from stem cells, happens mostly before we are born - as we are formed in the womb, we are generating most of what we need after birth.
  • After birth, neurogenesis is still possible in two parts of the brain: the olfactory bulb (which is responsible for our sense of smell) and the hippocampus (which is responsible for memory, spatial navigation, and emotional processing).
  • Research from the 1960s proves creating new neurons as adults is possible, and modern-day research explains how (and why) we should promote new neuron growth.
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Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

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