Courtesy of the Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum, Betty Ford, White House Papers, and the Library of Congress, Music Division. No photographer credited, undated photograph.

Martha Graham's Cold War:

The Dance of American Diplomacy

“I am not a propagandist,” declared the matriarch of American modern dance Martha Graham while on her State Department funded-tour in 1955. Graham’s claim inspires questions: the United States government exported Graham and her company internationally to over twenty-seven countries representing every seated president from Dwight D. Eisenhower through Ronald Reagan, and planned to continue under George H.W. Bush. She intersected with politically powerful women in a story of "Good Old Women's History" from Eleanor Dulles, sister of Eisenhower’s Dulles brothers in the State Department and CIA, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, to political matriarch Barbara Bush. With her tours and modernist aesthetic, Graham represented American Cold War ideology globally. Her political biography demonstrates the power of the individual, immigrants, republicanism, and, ultimately, freedom from walls and metaphorical fences with cultural diplomacy through the unfettered language of movement and dance. Learn more at Oxford University Press.

Praise for Martha Graham's Cold War...

"Phillips effectively combines a survey of cultural diplomacy during the Cold War with an examination of Graham’s outsize role in the history of American dance, and interviews with Graham company dancers formed part of her research. In the 1950s, the choreographer’s innovations were a powerful counterpoint to the rigidity of Soviet classical ballet, and her work, while not explicitly political, could carry strong messages with their multiracial casting, challenging subject matter, and international collaborations with artists, such as sculptor Isamu Noguchi... Phillips offers valuable insight into how the United States used dance as a propaganda tool." - Kirkus Reviews

"Scholars and general readers alike will appreciate how Victoria Phillips focuses on the era’s most innovative dancer to craft her rich history of the Cold War. Highly recommended!” Emily S. Rosenberg, Co-editor of Body and Nation: The Global Realm of U.S. Body Politics in the Twentieth Century

"Meticulously researched and impassioned, Martha Graham's Cold War is essential reading for scholars of cultural diplomacy, the Cold War, and the history of dance." - Laura A. Belmonte, author of Selling the American Way: US Porpaganda and the Cold War


© 2021 by Victoria Phillips

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