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Episode 152: Modern Dance and Modern America, or, Martha Graham and the Cold War

Martha Graham has been described as the “Picasso of modern dance”; she was and remains an icon of modernist high culture. But she was also received at the White House by every President from Franklin Roosevelt to George H.W. Bush, and was a cultural ambassador sent abroad by the United States to demonstrate, as today’s guest writes, a “freedom of expression that was available only in a democracy in which artists were not tools of the state and thus not subject to totalitarian intervention or suppression, be it Nazi or Soviet.”

Victoria Phillips is Lecturer in History at Columbia University, and author of Martha Graham’s Cold War: The Dance of American Diplomacy, published in January by Oxford University Press. Dr. Phillips has been a dancer, a portfolio manager on Wall Street; and is an editor of the journal American Communist History and of Dance Chronicle; and a member of the board of the Society of Dance Historians.