Preserving The Martha Graham Dance Company

Martha Graham Dance CompanyThe Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance announced that its efforts in using technology to help preserve choreography and pass it on from one generation to the next were to be aided by a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that will allow the company to build on, digitise and organise its archive of materials on Graham dances.

The grant will allow the center to create “toolkits” to help immortalise individual Graham dances, including videos of generations of Graham dancers in rehearsal and performance; stage drawings; musical recordings and scores; Graham’s choreographic notes; drawings and photographs of sets; costume sketches, and reviews. The kits will also incorporate the center’s recently restored and digitised films and videos, and some materials that were restored after they were damaged by Hurricane Sandy last year, a devastating blow to the company.

Over the next two years the center will create 35 new toolkits which can be used by the Martha Graham Dance Company when it revives a work, as well as by other companies and schools that license them, helping to recreate the magic of the Graham technique and performance without allowing any of it to get lost. The next set of toolkits would be about 34 dances, and the Martha Graham technique. Restoring the critical material – those pieces the company has information on – are hugely important for the company.

The toolkits will also be made available to scholars, critics and artists interested in Martha Graham. Graham is widely renowned as one of four major modern dance pioneers of her time (with Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman and José Limón). Throughout her choreographic lifetime, Graham created 181 dances.