Martha Clarke Additional Biography

Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

As the second child and only daughter in a financially secure and artistically inclined family, Martha Clarke was encouraged to pursue her creative interests at an early age.

At the age of six she began studying dance at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and taking drawing lessons at the Baltimore Museum. Horseback riding was another favorite activity and one she pursued in the summers at the Perry-Mansfield Camp in Colorado. There, in 1957, she met Helen Tamiris, who cast her, at the age of thirteen, as a child in Ode to Walt Whitman. Clarke says that she was hooked on dancing from the first time she worked with Tamiris.

When Clarke was fifteen she attended the American Dance Festival in Connecticut, where she first met Louis Horst, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, José Limón, Charles Weidman, and Alvin Ailey, and where she first saw the work of Anna Sokolow, whose dramatic dances greatly impressed her. The next year she began to attend the Juilliard School, where she studied dance composition with Horst, who was instrumental in developing her theatrical style. For two years she also studied with Anthony Tudor, and as a sophomore she performed a large role in a ballet he had choreographed. Also at Juilliard she danced in the companies of Ethel Winter and Lucas Hoving, performing Suite for a Summer Day by the latter in 1962. She was in the first Dance Theater Workshop production with Jeff Duncan, after which she spent three years in Sokolow’s company. Clarke left the company because she found the work bleak and believed that she was becoming artistically limited.

Shortly after she graduated from Juilliard she married the sculptor Philip Grausman, a Prix de Rome winner. During the first five years of their fifteen-year marriage (they were divorced in 1980), Clarke stopped dancing. The couple lived in Italy for part of this time, immersing themselves in the art world....

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