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Legacy Oral History Online Collection

Fine Audio Clips and Transcript

Fine Audio Clip

VF: Let me tell you a little bit about how I worked with Martha Graham. Whereas with Charles and Doris and Hanya I had seen the dance before I wrote it, as I mentioned before, [Graham’s] was written to a script. And Martha just took the music from me, and that was it. And she had a rehearsal pianist, and she didn't want anybody at the rehearsals.

At one time, she was midway into the work or just beginning it, I said, “Could I see it?” She got very nervous--she was very nervous about a new work, very full of doubt, which, you know, considering her genius and her reputation, in a way, it was kind of humbling, because she didn't take for granted she was going to do a great work. She was just full of doubt whether she'd do anything any good. So she let me come to a rehearsal, and she danced somewhat, and she didn't dance well at all--she was very nervous, showing me what she'd done. I think it’s an insight into the way she regarded her work, that she felt uncertain and doubtful at the beginning of it.

And the next thing I saw was the rehearsal on the stage of the theater, a couple of months later, with the orchestra--that’s the first time that I saw it. So that the collaboration was beforehand. She talked to me about it--she has a very alluring personality. She talked to me about the work, and gave me the script, but she had confidence in her composers, and she would just let them write whatever they wanted to.

There was this suite from Alcestis which was subsequently recorded and produced by Composers Recordings Incorporated, CRI. So that was what happened with my work with Martha.

 ©Museum of Performance + Design

Vivian Fine
Fine Audio Clips and Transcript