One of the most well-known female dancers of the modern style, Martha Graham was born on the 11th of May, 1894, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Graham danced and taught for over seventy years, was the first to perform at the White House as a dancer, travelled abroad as a cultural ambassador, and was even awarded the highest civilian award which is available in the United States; the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction, an award which is rarely awarded to dancers.
She has also received several varied honours throughout her life, including the Key to the City of Paris, and Japan’s Imperial Order of the Precious Crown. She has herself stated that she has spent her entire life with dance and being a dancer and that if you are a dancer, then it is inevitable that you must dance. Her life has also been the subject of numerous books and documentaries, most of which focus on her involvement with the invention of modern dance; a style of dancing which seeks to reject the strict rules that ballet had set down and instead focus on areas such as improvisation instead.