Seven years after beginning her dance training, Graham moved to New York City. Graham danced, modeled, and taught dance classes to stay afloat. In 1926, she started her own company, the Martha Graham Dance Company. She also taught dance at Bennington College and New York University, and was a founder of the dance program at Julliard. She is considered one of the major creators of modern and experimental dance.
As a performance artist, Graham did not really come to her own until the 1940s, when her dramatic, angst-ridden dance dramas became popular. Graham's style of dance was unlike anything previously seen, with dramatic makeup, sculpted sets, and painful rountines.
Graham continued to dance on stage until 1968, well past the age of retirement for most dancers. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976. She died in 1991 at the age of 96.
Martha Graham Dance CompanyThe Martha Graham Dance Company is the oldest dance company in America and continues to perform, including at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in June 2008, a program consisting of: Ruth St. Denis' The Incense; Graham's reconstruction of Ted Shawn's Serenata Morisca; Graham's Lamentation; Yuriko's reconstruction of Graham's Panorama, performed by dancers from Skidmore College; excerpts from Yuriko's and Graham's reconstruction of the latter's Chronicle from the Julien Bryan film; Graham's Errand into the Maze and Maple Leaf Rag
"Graham's original girls were superb - Bessie Schonberg, Evelyn Sabin, Martha Hill, Gertrude Shurr, Anna Sokolow, Nelle Fisher, Dorothy Bird, Bonnie Bird, Sophie Maslow, May O'Donnell, Jane Dudley, Anita Alvarez, Pearl Lang - as were the second group - Yuriko, Ethel Butler, Ethel Winter, Jean Erdman, Patricia Birch, Nina Fonaroff, Matt Turney, Mary Hinkson. And the group of men - Erick Hawkins, and after him Merce Cunningham, David Campbell, John Butler, Robert Cohan, Stuart Hodes, Glen Tetley, Bertram Ross, Paul Taylor, Mark Ryder, William Carter."
Graham also taught movement classes to actors including Woody Allen. Madonna was a pupil of Graham's as well in the 1970s and early 1980s.