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Herstory: Three Choreographers Who Changed the Dance World

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The arts, specifically dance, are often viewed as a method of self-expression. One could even compare it to a way of celebrating life as dance can take various forms and present itself in different ways. These presentations are often representations of an idea, concept or feeling the choreographer was inspired by.


Celebrating Women’s History Month throughout March means learning about and applauding women who have done exceptional things in their fields. That being said, these are three female choreographers who have changed the dance world:


Sonya Tayeh

Photo: Instagram @sonyatayeh

Sonya Tayeh is known for her emotional and dynamic choreography that goes beyond where viewers predict it to stop. It is evident by watching videos of classes she has taught that her investment in choreography goes beyond the steps.


Tayeh has received two Emmy nominations for her work on the television show, “So You Think You Can Dance.” Her choreographic and meritorious repertoire is extensive with one of her latest projects as the choreographer for the upcoming Broadway musical, “Moulin Rouge!”


Twyla Tharp

Photo: Instagram @twylatharp

Twyla Tharp has embodied female empowerment from the beginning of her career—she founded her company, Twyla Tharp Dance, in 1965. Since the 60s, Tharp has choreographed over 160 works ranging from ballets to contemporary works to figure skating routines. Prior to forming her company, she trained and performed under renown choreographers such as Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and the Paul Taylor Dance Company.


Tharp continues to choreograph, working directly with her company and within the last year, the Royal Ballet.


Martha Graham

Photo: Instagram @marthagrahamdance

Martha Graham is responsible for the formation of the Graham modern technique, which is still a major dance technique taught across the world. Her dance and choreographic career continued for over 70 years, and continues to survive through the Martha Graham Dance Company.


In 1939, Graham became the first dancer to perform at the White House and in 1976 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Even after her death in 1991, Graham has continued to receive praise: Time Magazine named her “Dancer of the Century” in 1998 and in 2015 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.


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