Martha Graham found Freud’s psychoanalytic ideas useful for making sense of both her personal life and the material to which she was drawn as a choreographer; they were particularly central to the creative process for her works based on Greek myths.
In Night journey (above), in which Oedipus’s mother and wife is forced by the blind seer Tiresias to relive the most painful moments of her life, Graham turns Jocasta into a powerful female protagonist by turning a straightforward linear narrative into a complex and difficult one, evoking the physically charged and taboo themes of eroticism, the maternal body, and death.
This according to “Dance, gender and psychoanalysis: Martha Graham’s Night journey” by Ramsay Burt (Dance research journal XXX/1 [spring 1998] pp. 34–53). Below, Graham herself dances in the opening of Alexander Hammid’s 1960 film of the work.
Related article: Herskovitz and Freud
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