Since its inception in 1926, the Martha Graham Dance Company has performed in over 50 countries throughout the world at venues such as the Metropolitan Opera House; Carnegie Hall; the Paris Opera House; Covent Garden; the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; at the base of the Great Pyramids, Giza, Egypt; and in the Ancient Herod Atticus Theatre on the Acropolis, Athens. The company's annual New York season at City Center consists of some 14 to 16 performances, usually in the spring.
The Martha Graham Dance Center is the repository of 181 dances choreographed by Martha Graham, many of them astonishing works of great beauty. Among these are such well known ballets as Heretic (1929), Lamentation (1930), Primitive Mysteries (1931), Frontier (1935), Deep Song (1937), El Penitente (1940), Appalachian Spring (1944), Cave of the Heart (1946), Errand into the Maze (1947), Night Journey (1947), Diversion of Angels (1948), Clytemnestra (1958), Embattled Garden (1958), Phaedra (1962), Frescoes (1978), Acts of Light (1981), The Rite of Spring (1984), Temptation of the Moon (1986), Night Chant (1988) and Maple Leaf Rag (1990).
One of the greatest choreographers, Martha Graham called the dance she made contemporary dance. Though Graham is herself her best-known alumna, the company has also been a training ground for some of modern dance's most illustrious performers and choreographers. Former members of the company include Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, Pearl Lang, Elisa Monte, Paul Taylor and Glen Tetley. Martha Graham has also invited a number of celebrities to join her company in performance over the years, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Claire Bloom, Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, Maya Plistskaya and Kathleen Turner.
The Graham Company has been called one of the greatest companies in the world. The standard of artistic excellence established by Martha Graham, continues under the leadership of former principal dancer Janet Eilber, who serves as the company's artistic director.