Celebrating spring with Martha Graham on her 120th birthday

May 11 marks the 120th anniversary of the birth Martha Graham, the mother of modern dance and the founder of one of the most influential dance schools in America.

No artist is ahead of his time. He is his time; it is just that others are behind the times. –Martha Graham

Graham numbered many of the 20th century’s most influential artists among her friends. Her collaboration with composer Aaron Copeland, “Appalachian Spring,” which debuted 70 years ago in 1944, is for many the quintessential expression of America in dance.

The Martha Graham Dance Company compiled this video of three signature performances of Appalachian Spring to mark its 70th anniversary. Martha Graham herself performs in the black and white version from 1948.

After she retired from performing, Graham continued to teach generations of the world’s top modern dance performers.

Her company, The Martha Graham Dance Company continues to thrive.

Support PBS NewsHour: