Frontiers of Dance Critical Context - Essay

Walter Terry

Critical Context

A problem that twentieth century biographers face is the accumulation of too much material. In Frontiers of Dance, Terry has managed to condense reviews, records, and interviews into a readable work accessible to young people. Terry’s critical understanding of modern dance allows him to provide valuable interpretations of particular works, and his personal friendship with Graham adds interesting anecdotal material.

The career of Graham serves to inspire not only those who are interested in dance but also those seeking encouragement for a unique path of their own. As Graham once said, “Each of us is unique and if you don’t fulfill that uniqueness in whatever course your life may take, in whatever position you may hold, it is lost for all time.” Although Graham was not part of the feminist movement, her life and work illustrate her understanding and commitment to the female experience. Many of her dances were portraits of particular women, such as Dickinson, the Brontës, Clytemnestra, and Medea, and in most of the others the central figure is a woman. Graham revolutionized modern dance and influenced all who came after her. Her legacy, as described by Terry in Frontiers of Dance, is composed of luminous performances, masterpieces of choreography, and an indomitable spirit.