Primitive Mysteries (1931)
"Primitive Mysteries has its beginnings in the adoration of the Virgin as experienced in the Southwestern Spanish-American culture. Literally, it is a celebration of the coming of age of a young girl, spiritually it is the Madonna returned to Earth, blessed and blessing her followers, and then returning to Heaven to comfort her soul." – Martha Graham (program notes)
"Primitive Mysteries composed of 'Hymn to the Virgin', 'Crucifixus', and 'Hosanna', is a ritual perhaps a key ritual which does not specify any race, any faith or any period, but which applies to all. If it were performed in Cuzco's Temple of the Sun, at ancient Stonehenge, besides the hall of Karnak, or in the heart of Jerusalem, I am certain that it would stir the memories and caress the hearts of all its beholders, for it is eternally primitive in its quest for divine contact, for divine guidance through ritual." – Walter Terry, New York Herald Tribune, March 8, 1947
"Martha came three days before, in the evening, for the first time. Sophie Maslow was putting the piece together. In the first section, Hymn to the Virgin, I thought I was blessing the people that came to see me. Martha said, 'Yuriko, you are not blessing them, they are blessing you!' Which is completely opposite from what I was doing!" – Yuriko
Primitive Mysteries (1931): Yuriko and the Martha Graham Dance Company (1964-08-16)Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance
Neil Baldwin, the cultural historian and critic, is the author of biographies of William Carlos Williams, Man Ray, and Thomas Edison. His previous essay on Martha Graham for Google Arts & Culture, Ninety Years Ago Tonight, was published on April 18, 2016. His book in progress is Martha Graham: When Dance Became Modern (under contract with Alfred A. Knopf.)
Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, Inc. All Rights Reserved
For more information on the Martha Graham Dance Company's 2017 New York Season at The Joyce Theater, please visit us at: http://marthagraham.org/nyc2017
Curation by Oliver Tobin
A special thank you to Yuriko and Neil Baldwin for their contribution to this exhibition.
Bird, Dorothy, and Joyce Greenberg. Bird's Eye View. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh Press, 1997. Print.
Graham, Martha. Blood Memory. New York: Doubleday, 1991. Print.
Mille, Agnes. Martha, The Life and Work of Martha Graham. New York: Random House, 1988. Print.
Terry, Walter. New York Herald Tribune 8 Mar. 1947: n. pag.