On Keeping Dance Modern, Values, Technology, Martha Graham’s Life and Legacy, and More
The Martha Graham Dance Company was founded in 1926 by Martha Graham, widely recognized as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century and creator of an iconic approach to dance based on the human body’s capacity for expression. The company continues to lead the modern dance world today, bringing together Martha’s classic choreography and costumes with today’s choreographers, technology, and audience expectations.
Janet Eilber has been Martha Graham Dance Company’s Artistic Director since 2005. She was Martha’s protégé and principal dancer with the company. She has danced almost every one of Martha’s classic works and several works choreographed by Graham specifically for her. She has also had a longstanding film and stage career, directed by greats such as Agnes de Mille and Bob Fosse, performed at the White House, and received four Lester Horton Dance Awards by the Dance Resource Center of Los Angeles.
Janet reflects on how Martha’s legacy fuels a forward-looking approach to modern dance: from a spotlight on the legend to a refocus on the modern, technologically savvy audience. Ethics is embedded in every aspect of the history, choreography, and audience-focused values. Ethics is indeed a part of the Martha Graham movement language. Janet also shares stories of Martha’s moral foundation, for example refusing to perform in Nazi Germany, and her use of dance to challenge those with whom she worked to be their best ethical selves.
Welcome to my conversation with Ms. Janet Eilber.
Our gratitude to the Martha Graham Dance Company for granting permission to use their images in this interview.