Google and Graham

In celebration of Martha Graham’s 117th birthday, Google and “motionographer” Ryan Woodward (as the press release says) have created a pretty nifty animated Doodle. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth taking a look. (I’m fighting making a “google it” joke here…)

Our connection speed in Hawaii tends to be slow, so at first sight I thought it was a tiny Jedi that was using the force to make the Google Doodle disappear. But it got even better than that when things started moving, and I recognized the figure as an iconic Graham dancer in action. I then turned giddy, refreshed the page a few dozen times, and wondered if my dance friends were on-line to share the excitement… And not only should dancers be excited, but artists, art lovers and creative folks in general as well.  This kind of public appreciation for the arts on such a massive scale is a pretty big deal. Imagine all the people who will go to Google, well, to look up the millions of random things we Google everyday, and walk away (or type away) with the curious notion that maybe they want to know more about Martha Graham. Wikipedia anyone?

Which immediately brought to mind this great poster-ad, loved by art-educators, dancers and history faculty alike..

I love Martha Graham’s work, and have ever since I first heard of her in my beginning dance class at Bennington College. If I hadn’t been a 23 year-old transfer student at the time (oldest kid in the class, and yes, a late bloomer artistically!),  I seriously might have become a dancer instead of a photographer.  Watching films of Graham leading classes on the same lawn that my friends and I crossed everyday was, for lack of better words, amazing.

So today, to celebrate Graham’s beautiful work and life, I thought I’d share some new-ish images that were presented at Illinois State’s Gallery 2 in November. Last fall, the ISU Dance Department undertook learning and performing Graham’s “Diversion of Angels” for the Fall concert series.

After watching auditions, photographing rehearsals and trying to help the video crew (I’m about as good of a videographer as I am a dancer), I was in awe of the specific gestures in Graham’s choreography, which were so subtle yet strong at the same time. These 11 portraits, made in collaboration with the ISU dancers in studio, capture the exactness and intimacy of the powerful gestural moments in Graham’s work.

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