The Martha Graham Dance Company has been a world leader in the evolving art form of modern dance since its founding in 1926. Today, the Company is embracing a new programming vision that showcases masterpieces by Graham alongside newly commissioned works by contemporary artists. During its 90-year history, the Company has received acclaim from audiences and critics in more than 50 countries.

This stunning program includes Acts of Light, Immediate Tragedy, and Northrop’s Centennial Commission, Canticle for Innocent Comedians, based on the 1952 Graham work. The original Canticle consisted of eight vignettes dedicated to nature: sun, earth, wind, water, fire, moon, stars, and death. This piece will follow that same structure and include Martha Graham’s original choreography for Moon.

This event will be captioned, with other accessibility services available upon request.

Northrop Centennial Commission

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"These men and women easily embody the choreographer’s sense of dancers as angelic athletes” —Robert Greskovic, The Wall Street Journal

“This is contemporary dance at its very best.” —Marina Kennedy, Broadway World 

“Can this please never go away?” —Siobhan Burke, The New York Times


Learn More

The content below derives from the Northrop Across Campus Program that supports Northrop's mission towards intersections between performing arts and education for the benefit of all participants now and for generations to come.

Explore These Themes

Find ways to make thematic connections to these suggested courses.

American Studies/American Cultural Studies/American History

Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies

Environmental Studies

Social/Environmental Justice

Dance: Modern, Contemporary

Theatre Arts

Theatrical Storytelling

Music: Multi-Genre 

Spirituality and Healing


Sustainability Studies

Costume Design

Earth Sciences


Start a conversation about the performance, or reflect on the performance, using these questions as inspiration.

Martha Graham created her own physical system - a technique of movements initiated by the torso and using the concepts of “contraction and release” - in order to build emotional activity within the mind, body, and soul. Using this unique dance vocabulary, Graham created over 181 pieces throughout her astounding 70 year career.

  • How does the current company continue the legacy of Graham’s innovation that began almost 100 years ago?
  • Do you believe it is better for artistic technique to evolve or instead stay completely true to the foundation it is based on?

Martha Graham designed her movements for the stage based on basic elemental human body language – the unconscious movements that reveal what we are thinking or feeling. 

  • Reflect on how embodying certain movements can change the way you feel or the impression you may give to others.
  • After the performance, try out the Graham Technique pose that had the most impact on you in your own body. Reflect on how it made you feel and the way you perceive yourself.

The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance holds the title of being “the longest continuously operating school of dance in the United States and the only one primarily focused on the Martha Graham Technique and repertory.” 

  • Why is it important to continue teaching these classical techniques to the new generations of dancers?
  • How do you predict modern dance will continue to grow, evolve, and adapt to a rapidly shifting twenty-first century global society? 

This season, the Martha Graham Dance Company is focusing on the theme of Human/Nature. The Anthropocene is the era on Earth known as the Age of Humans. The Great Acceleration of the Anthropocene describes man’s increasing effect on Earth since 1950. For this performance, to highlight the themes of our symbiotic relationship to nature, the company will be using sustainable fashion practices to design, create, and produce the Canticle for Innocent Comedian costumes.

  • How do you envision the future of theatrical costume design and the implementation of more eco-friendly practices within the theatre industry?
  • Why is it important to utilize art in order to increase awareness of climate change and express humanity's devastating impact on the natural environment?