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Martha Hill

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A teacher and educator who inspired generations of dancers and choreographers and developed the first college-level programs offering professional training in modern dance, Martha Hill (1900-1995) was born in East Palestine, Ohio. She studied at the Kellogg School of Physical Education, received a B.S. degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, and danced with Martha Graham from 1929 to 1931. Beginning in 1930, when she became director of dance at New York University (a position she held for the next twenty-one years), she devoted her career to making a place for dance in higher education. From 1932 to 1951 she chaired the department of dance at Bennington College and with Mary Josephine Shelley founded the summer school and festival that brought hundreds of aspiring dancers to the campus during the 1930s. In 1948 she became the founding director of the American Dance Festival at the Connecticut College Summer School of Dance. Three years later she founded the Juilliard School's Dance Division which she directed until 1985. Under her inspired leadership, it became a national training ground for dance luminaries such as Paul Taylor, Martha Clarke, Dudley Williams, and Pina Bausch.



Martha Hill lectures about Martha Graham at Bennington College in 1985. Hill was one of the founders of Bennington's influential dance program, and she hired Graham and other pioneering modern dance choreographers to teach at the college.


Essay by Janet Soares -- Selected resources