Errand into the Maze
The Life and Works of Martha Graham
by Deborah Jowitt
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Pub Date 30 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 29 Feb 2024
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Month
“Deborah Jowitt chronicles a life passionately, artfully lived. An essential read about a true legend.” —Mikhail Baryshnikov
“A study in balance and grace.” —The New York Times Book Review
From the legendary dance critic Deborah Jowitt, Errand into the Maze is the definitive biography of the visionary dancer and choreographer Martha Graham.
In the pantheon of American modernists, few figures loom larger than Martha Graham. One of the greatest choreographers ever to live, Graham pioneered a revolutionary dance technique—primal, dynamic, and rooted in the emotional life of the body—that upended traditional vocabulary and shaped generations of dancers and choreographers across the globe. Over her sweeping career, she founded what is now the oldest dance company in the country and produced nearly two hundred ballets, many of them masterpieces. And along the way, she engaged with the major debates, events, and ideas of the twentieth century, creating works that cut to the core of the human experience. Time magazine’s “Dancer of the Century,” and the first dancer and choreographer to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Graham was a visionary artistic force and an international cultural figure: hers was the iconic face of what came to be known as modern dance.
From the renowned dance writer and former longtime critic for The Village Voice Deborah Jowitt, Errand into the Maze draws on more than a decade of firsthand research to deliver the definitive portrait of this titan. Beginning with Graham’s childhood in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and her early studies at the Denishawn School; weaving in her offstage adventures, including her relationship with her dancer and muse Erick Hawkins; and chronicling her retirement from dancing at age seventy-five and her remarkably productive final years, this elegant, empathetic biography portrays the artist in all her passionate complexity. Most important, Jowitt places Graham’s creations at the heart of her story. Her works, brimming with raw intensity, are intimately linked with their creator, who played the heroine in almost all that she choreographed: Joan of Arc, Jocasta, Clytemnestra, and Judith, among others. In this volume, Graham is centerstage once more, and Jowitt casts a brilliant spotlight on her life and work.
A Note From the Publisher
“In Errand into the Maze, Deborah Jowitt chronicles a life passionately, artfully lived. An essential read about a true legend.” —Mikhail Baryshnikov
“Gently magisterial and written with compelling fluency, Deborah Jowitt’s Errand into the Maze is piercingly insightful about both the creativity and personal life of the choreographer Martha Graham. Even if you watched Graham’s dances when she was living, you often meet her as if for the first time in these pages.” —Alastair Macaulay, former chief dance critic at The New York Times
“As a dancer and choreographer herself, and as a revered chronicler of the ethos of dance for over six decades, Deborah Jowitt takes us into the life and art of Martha Graham from an unmatchable perspective. Jowitt’s embodied understanding of Graham’s radical movement vocabulary, coupled with her deep and inimitable knowledge of the art form, offers us eye-opening access to the mysteries of the Graham legacy. This lyrical, readable biography brings to life the personal journey of a woman genius destined to revolutionize American art in the twentieth century and invites us inside the ephemeral masterpieces with which she changed the world.” —Janet Eilber, artistic director of the Martha Graham Dance Company
“[A] stunning portrait of the doyenne of modern dance.” —Jerome Charyn, The American Scholar
“[A] portrait of a modern dance icon. Veteran dance critic [Deborah] Jowitt offers an authoritative, sensitive biography . . . Prodigious research informs an insightful [work].” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Deborah Jowitt lays the groundwork for [Graham’s] revolutionary techniques and methods that reconfigured modern American dance . . . [Errand into the Maze] brings to light Graham’s artistic vision as well as personal experiences that linked her life and work.” —Art in America
“A rigorous, authoritative biography of [a legend] . . . Fans will thrill to this comprehensive account of Graham’s boundary-breaking work.” —Publishers Weekly
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 13 members
I have been reading articles by Deborah Jowitt all of my dancing life, all 52 years of it! I was so excited to see this book coming out next year.. ERRAND INTO THE MAZE, The Life and Works of Martha Graham..... on Netgalley. It was everything I thought it would be and better. A look at the choreographic life of Martha Graham, I got to revisit her studio and the many teachers who taught me the Graham Technique in Modern Dance. I knew many of the very intense stories Ms. Jowitt mentions in the book, and I never tire of hearing them! Martha Graham was truly an icon…a genius! And Jowitt’s indelible descriptions of the way she created her work leaves me honestly, in awe. This is a remarkable book which leaves an indelible impression of the artist and her life! Thank you NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publishing. I can't wait to share the information and this book with my Dance History students!!
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