A Dancer’s World
1957, Directed by Peter Glushanok, 31 minutes
“A dancer’s world is arrived at by days and days of work, by weeks of work, and by years of work,” Martha Graham says, addressing the viewer from her dressing room. Over the preceding 30 minutes, we’ve watched her apply her hair and makeup, and we’ve listened to her describe, in grand tones, the training necessary for a dancer to become a “divine normal.” And then she turns to exit, the camera pushes forward, and she disappears to take her place on stage.
Produced for educational television by arts-programming pioneer Nathan Kroll, A Dancer’s World is set mostly in Graham’s studio, where her troupe demonstrates the fundamentals of the “Graham technique,” which remains a foundation of modern dance training. Director Peter Glushnakov’s camera is carefully choreographed as well—panning, tilting, and dollying through the studio to frame each dancer in precise and often startling compositions. Historian John Mueller has called it “one of the most beautiful dance films ever made.”
Big Ears presentation of A Dancer’s World is curated and co-presented by The Public Cinema.