Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – “the three decades…of Martha Graham’s intense invention in both the theatre and the classoom…are the fantastic years that Neil Baldwin covers in his recent, multi-faceted cultural biography…This not everyone’s Modernism; it belongs in the perfectionists’ wing with Brancusi, Roualt and Giocometti.” – Mindy Aloff, in LIBER: A Feminist Review, II.4, Winter, 2024.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – “…is a real humdinger. Graham, world-famous as a dancer, choreographer and teacher, was born in Allegheny City (now known as the North Side) in 1894. Baldwin follows Graham from her early education at Second Ward Elementary School to the very height of her art. The tome is thorough in its research and thoroughly enjoyable.” — Kristofer Collins, Books Editor, Pittsburgh Magazine, November 29, 2023.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – “Given her eventual stature, it is easy to forget that Martha Graham’s modernism was not simply a predestined stroke of genius. As Neil Baldwin’s admiring and attentive biography reminds us, her art was conditioned upon her foundational desire to make dance modern, and to make modern dance American.” – Emily Hawk, in The NationJuly 19, 2023. Read the review here.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern “[is] an important read for anyone interested in 20th century arts in the United States…Critic John Martin once said, ‘Martha Graham does the unforgivable thing for a dancer to do — she makes you think.’ Neil Baldwin does the same for his readers, stretching us beyond purely dance history into multi-faceted evidence that much of what made Graham Graham — was her lifetime of intellectual curiosity and her search for artistic truth.” – Laura Pettibone Wright, Journal of Dance Education, Spring 2023.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern “…is both an insightful biography and an erudite work of cultural history.  The fearless dancer and choreographer comes alive in its pages; so do the personalities and achievements of many of the most astute and tenacious pioneers of twentieth-century modernism. This remarkable book opens our eyes to a beguiling individual and to the exceptional milieu in which she flourished.” — Nicholas Fox Weber, author of Patron Saints: Five Rebels who opened American to a New Art, 1928-1943

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – BIO International – Podcast #123 – NB interviewed by Jennifer Skoog; recording produced by Sonja D. Williams. March 3, 2023. Listen here.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern“Kick Off 2023 With These Dance Reads,” praised by Lewis J. Whittington in The DANCE Journal, a publication of PhiladelphiaDance.org — “Neil Baldwin paints a prose portrait of Martha Graham emerging during the late 1920s on a daring mission to create a distinctly American choreography…Along with her aesthetic, Baldwin brings in a more panoramic overview of the era’s performance art, culture and commerce…The chapter on Graham’s principal set designer, Isamu Noguchi, is fascinating.” – January 9, 2023.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – chosen by DANCE TEACHER magazine as one of “seventeen remarkable titles…the best books of 2022…Seasoned biographer Neil Baldwin took on the task of a new biography of Martha Graham, the first one in three decades. detailing her personal and professional life, iconic works, passion and loneliness.” – December 16, 2022.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – chosen by the editors of VOGUE as one of The 25 Best Books to Gift for the Holidays – December 18, 2022.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – chosen by the editors of New Jersey Monthly as one of Ten Great Books to Gift This Holiday Season. “Captivating novels and nonfiction make for the perfect present.” – December 9, 2022.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – Audiobook – read by Gabrielle de Cuir – recipient of a December 2022 Earphones Award, given by AudioFile “to truly exceptional titles that excel in narrative voice and style, characterizations, suitability to audio, and enhancement of the text…Gabrielle de Cuir keeps listeners attentive. Her voice is delicious–round, mellow, and perfectly suited to Martha Graham’s journey of discovery.” Read the entire review here.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – Selected as a Recent Book of Interest to Women Scholars on the Women in Academia Report; by Ali Shaw of Indigo Editing, Design & More as the ideal holiday gift for a biography lover; by Sarasota Books as one of its Long Books for Shorter Days; and by The Dance Enthusiast for their Holiday Gift Guide 2022

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – “Rarely has a biographer stretched our knowledge of Martha Graham’s life and times as much as Neil Baldwin in his new book…about ‘how the ecosystem of her era fed her genius,’ explains Janet Eilber, artistic director of the Martha Graham Company…For anyone hungry to read about Graham and her world…this book will be challenging and satisfying.” — Wendy Perron, New insights into Martha Graham, DANCE Magazine, November 30, 2022; and selected as one of ***WP’s NOTABLE DANCE BOOKS FOR 2022*** on December 12, 2022.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – “New biography emphasizes dance icon Martha Graham’s Pittsburgh roots” – Bill O’Driscoll, 90.5 WESA/NPR Pittsburgh – November 28, 2022.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – “Neil Baldwin admirably roots [Martha Graham] in a Midwestern family…He is even better when situating her in the constellation of early twentieth-century artists and thinkers who sloughed off the influence of Europe and instead sought inspiration from America…[and], helpfully, Baldwin contrasts Graham with another one-woman dancing wonder, Isadora Duncan — ‘A California girl by birth, Duncan achieved renown in the capitals of Europe; Graham traversed the length and breadth of her own land to articulate a new dance language, staking out native terrain.'” — Peter Tonguette, The Washington Examiner Magazine/Life & Arts, November 18, 2022.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern Graham Deconstructed at The Graham Studio praised by dance critic Wendy Perron – November 8, 2022 – “Charming and devoted, Neil Baldwin has written an engrossing new biography of Martha Graham as an American Modernist. At the Studio, he was in scintillating conversation with Janet Eilber and also read from his book while we watched archival films and two terrific live performances.” ***Watch the video here.***

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – featured as one of 5 HOT BOOKS by The National Book Review – November 7, 2022. “A robust, propulsive biography…illustrating [Graham’s] volatile relationships and her creative imagination.”

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – featured as one of 10 Books to Read: The Best Reviews of October – by The Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2022 -“The pioneering figure of modern dance was a daring innovator, a technical perfectionist and a preternaturally gifted performer. While she transformed the way a generation of dancers thought about movement, she looked for ways to claim her art purely as an American one.”

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – chosen by ALA booklistonline as their “REVIEW OF THE DAY” for October 26, 2022; featured as a STARRED REVIEW by Random House Library Marketing; one of ten “Best of the Best Adult Nonfiction for 2022 by Susan Maguire, ALA Shelf Care.

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – chosen by Katie Yee at LitHub as one of “16 new releases to support your out-of-control book-buying habit”; and featured by LitHub: “How Martha Graham Was Inspired by Wassily Kandinsky – Neil Baldwin on the Shared Artistic Visions of Modern Dance and Modern Art” – October 25, 2022

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – Charlie Tyson, in The Secret of How We Move, The Atlantic – October 18, 2022 – singles out NB’s “new biography…[and MG’s] achievement…to take the language of classical dance and explode it, discovering new expressive possibilities…The result was the making of modern dance.”

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – praised by Donna Seaman, adult trade books editor of ALA BOOKLIST – in her STARRED REVEW – October 18, 2022 – as “an enlightened, engrossing and richly-illustrated portrait…written with dynamic clarity and fluid empathy…a vital and defining biography.”

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – selected by the editors of Town and Country – October 6, 2022 -as “One of the 13 Best Books to Read this October – “The life and work of dance legend Martha Graham goes under the microscope in Neil Baldwin’s crackling biography, which tells the story of how Graham came to be the first lady of modern dance, but also explores the world in which she lived—and the mark she left on it that’s still visible today.”

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – praised by Hamilton Cain in The Wall Street Journal Fall Books Issue – October 8, 2022 – “Through his fiery, inexorable protagonist, Mr. Baldwin seeks the headwaters of American dance, much as 19th-century European explorers pursued the source of the Nile…Mr. Baldwin’s research is rigorous, his prose eloquent and muscular…His scrupulous attention to form—the choreographer’s own credo—shapes ‘Martha Graham’ into a biography that belongs on the same shelf as Heather Clark’s magisterial ‘Red Comet’ and Caroline Fraser’s award-winning ‘Prairie Fires.’ Here the ‘Picasso of dance’ springs—and lunges, and twirls—to life again, in all her fury and glory.”

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – selected by the book editors of OPRAH DAILY as one of “20 of the Best Fall Nonfiction Books of 2022” – September 27, 2022 – “A lush, capacious biography…Stellar cultural history, played out in one woman’s body and how it moved through space and time.”

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – selected by book editors of The New York Times as one of “15 New Memoirs and Biographies to Read this Fall” – September 8, 2022

Martha Graham – When Dance Became Modern – selected by book editors at AARP as one of “45 of Fall’s Best New Books” – September 1, 2022

Biographer Neil Baldwin (Edison: Inventing the Century) reveals how the visionary Martha Graham (1894–1991) revolutionized dance and choreography, making them modern and free in this mesmerizing portrait. Born in Pittsburgh, Pa., Graham learned early on that “movement never lies.” The shy bookworm began to blossom once she arrived in exotic Santa Barbara. Inspired after attending a recital by the passionate diva Ruth St. Denis, Graham “knew at that moment I was going to be a dancer.” Studying first at the Cumnock School of Expression in Los Angeles, she trained under St. Denis and the innovative Ted Shawn, “coming to life” under his tutelage, and realizing “a dance must dominate me, completely, until I lose sense of anything else.” Influenced by contemporaries like Isadora Duncan, Michio Itō , Wassily Kandinsky, and Rouben Mamoulian, Graham learned to “do things in a new way,” emphasizing movement out of stillness and believing that “any great art is the condensation of a strong feeling.” The trailblazing Graham seemingly sculpted modern dance out of thin air, creating indelible works like Heretic, Lamentation, and Primitive Mysteries, always looking to the future. Provocative and passionate as the dynamo herself, this richly detailed and insightful page-turner will delight dance aficionados. (Oct.) Publishers Weekly – STARRED REVIEW

Neil Baldwin’s majestic biography of Martha Graham comes at a time in these comic book days when our souls need to be inspired by the austere passion of this American pioneer, this fanatical ‘prophetess’, whose dances unleashed primitive sacred energies in the earth and created a new vocabulary for the human body.  Baldwin’s meticulously researched, immensely readable biography puts Graham shoulder to shoulder with those other avatars of the Modern, Frank Lloyd Wright and Gertrude Stein, who created frontiers that still demand exploration.  — John Guare – Tony, Dramatists Guild, and Obie-award winning playwright.

Neil Baldwin’s definitive biography of pioneering dancer Martha Graham is a compelling and brilliant study of a complicated, dedicated woman who gave everything she had to modern dance. Baldwin reminds us what a modernist Graham was: bringing dance directly from the domination of ballet into a modern American idiom. Baldwin draws upon his incisive knowledge of the stars in the panoply of modernism—from Mabel Dodge Luhan to Lincoln Kirstein—to a dramatic narrative of Graham’s development and success. Just as Graham made the many parts of a modern dance piece, from music to costumes, and, of course, her brilliant vision for the performance–work together, so Baldwin brings together the elements of Martha Graham’s colorful life, writing with wit, verve, critical discernment, and a powerful lyricism. — Mary V. DearbornErnest Hemingway : A Biography

Neil Baldwin’s (The American Revelation) comprehensive and engaging biography places choreographer Martha Graham and her athletic, furious, demanding, powerful dance technique in the milieu of music, art and poetry of the time. Graham founded her female dance company in 1926, to embody dance’s dramatic potential, rather than feature the smooth elegance of ballet. Erick Hawkins, the first male dancer, joined the company more than 11 years later. Graham and her dancers incorporated audible breathing, flexed feet and dramatic contraction and release to show the effort dance required. Baldwin includes detailed descriptions of specific recitals, Graham’s jersey-fabric dance wear, the lives of her dance colleagues (Ruth St. Denis; Ted Shawn; Lincoln Kirstein) and artists of the time (sculptor Isamu Noguchi; composer Aaron Copland). Side trips into Graham’s sometimes-complicated personal life (she married musician Louis Horst, and later, dancer Hawkins) broaden the book’s appeal. Almost 70 pages of research notes and a 40-page bibliography speak to Baldwin’s dedicated and detailed forays into correspondence and dance notebooks, papers, film footage, reviews, and his consultations with archivists and special collection librarians. A worthwhile addition to modern dance collections.Maggie Knapp (Library Journal)

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