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

Every field has its revolutionaries – dance is no different. 

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.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

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Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

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15 surprising life lessons from a highly successful 80-year-old

You can use these to get ahead, no matter your age.

Personal Growth

Blackstone's Byron Wien, Vice Chairman of Private Wealth Solutions Group, gave a speech laying out the wisdom he learned during his 80 years. Here are 15 of Wien's best life lessons, which teach us about improving our productivity, sleep, burnout avoidance, and everything in between.

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Employees don't quit their job, they quit their boss

According to TwoFold CEO Alison McMahon, a leader who doesn't care (or can't pretend to care) about his or her employees isn't much of a leader at all.

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Why do people quit their jobs? Surely, there are a ton of factors: money, hours, location, lack of interest, etc. For Alison McMahon, an HR specialist and the CEO of TwoFold, the biggest reason employees jump ship is that they're tired of working for lousy bosses.

By and large, she says, people are willing to put up with certain negatives as long as they enjoy who they're working for. When that's just not the case, there's no reason to stick around:

Nine times out of ten, when an employee says they're leaving for more money, it's simply not true. It's just too uncomfortable to tell the truth.

Whether that's true is certainly debatable, though it's not a stretch to say that an inconsiderate and/or incompetent boss isn't much of a leader. If you run an organization or company, your values and actions need to guide and inspire your team. When you fail to do that, you set the table for poor productivity and turnover.

McMahon offers a few suggestions for those who want to hone their leadership abilities, though it seems that these things are more innate qualities than acquired skills. For example, actually caring about your workers or not depending wholly on HR thinking they can do your job for you.

It's the nature of promotions that, inevitably, a good employee without leadership skills will get thrust into a supervisory position. McMahon says this is a chronic problem that many organizations need to avoid, or at least make the time to properly evaluate and assist with the transition.

But since they often don't, they end up with uninspired workers. And uninspired workers who don't have a reason to stay won't stick around for long.

Read more at LinkedIn.

Radical theory says our universe sits on an inflating bubble in an extra dimension

Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.

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Surprising Science
  • A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the universe.
  • The researchers think our universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
  • All matter in the universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
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