Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: growth of dance in America
The dancer: [discussion with Barbara Morgan], pp. 272- PDF (3.8 MB)
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.