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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: growth of dance in America
(Summer-Fall, 1976)

The dancer: [discussion with Barbara Morgan],   pp. 272-[275] PDF (3.8 MB)


Page 272


Barbara Morgan visited the Madison campus
in 1975 for a lecture-slide demonstration of
her work. The following excerpts are from a
question and answer session held during her
visit. Ms. Morgan became known for her
dance photography with the publication of her
book: MARTHA GRAHAM: Sixteen Dances in
Photographs-1941 and from continually tour-
ing exhibits.
Some of my experiences when photographing
dance.
The beginning was 1935 when some friends of
ours, Julien and Marian Bryan, were visiting.
(Julien was Director of the International Film
Foundation from 1945 to his death in 1974).
i had just seen one of Martha's concerts.
I can't remember whether it was Primitive
Mysteries or Frontier, but I was very excited
and it aroused memory of my experiences in
the Southwest, where my husband and I had
so recently seen Indian Dance Ceremonials,
that I was still tuned in on it. So at dinner,
talking about Martha's concert, Julien said,
"Well, of course, we know her very well and
Marian gets her to come out to Sarah Law-
rence College occasionally to teach the dance
students." Then Marian said, "Tomorrow
Julien is going to be filming a documentary
of Martha's rehearsal. Why don't you get
your camera and come along?" Well I did.
272
During his filming there was a moment of
peace when Julien had stopped to put new
film in his camera. I asked Martha very
directly, "By any chance have you been influ-
enced by the Indian and Spanish dance cere-
monials in the Southwest?" I said I recently
had the great pleasure of seeing her dance
and I had that sudden intuition. She said,
"Absolutely, that's one of the greatest
inspirations in my entire life." I said, "I'd like
to do a book on your work." She said, "Sure
I'll work wtih you" It was just like that.
Before we actually started on the book, we
discussed our experiences. It was kind of
eerie to find that both of us had comparable
experiences that had influenced our approach.
When I was an art student at U.C.L.A. our
art historian, who was a profound scholar in
Oriental Art and Philosophy, taught us their
ancient canon of "rhythmic vitality." Also in
design composition their need for negative
space to receive the "trajectories of
movement."
This all connected with my early childhood
experiences, when my father would tell me
that "everything is made of dancing atoms."
He started my life-long search for the "invisi-
ble life forces within the visible." I continue
to feel motion as a result of emotion, and
therefore the crux of art composition.


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