Art institutions worldwide are closed or partially closed because of COVID-19, but that isn’t stopping dancers at the Martha Graham Dance Company from continuing to offer dance, fitness, stress relief, healing and connection for all. As the iconic Graham ballet Appalachian Spring (now screening on the Planet Classroom Network YouTube Channel) reminds us, life is not always easy. The ballet prompts us “to think about and believe in the power of optimism, of hard work, of determination and resistance against challenge,” says Artistic Director Janet Eilber on the new Planet Classroom podcast, in which leading Graham dancers talk about the transition from Live to Virtual during the COVID19 pandemic.

In a period when many feel nervous about the future of live dance performances, the Graham company is exploring the opportunities that technology offers. Zoom, something that originally may have been mostly used for business conference calls, is now being used “as a source of thousands of dance classes around the world to connect to one another,” says Graham dancer Lloyd Knight. While dancer Anne Souder admits there are challenges for the dancer in the digital space, she believes the true power of technology lies in its ability to create “equality to accessing the arts.”


The Planet Classroom Network, organized by CMRubinWorld, brings together musicians, dancers, video game creators, filmmakers, learning innovators and emerging technologists from all over the world to entertain, educate and engage youth, and to provide a rich cultural experience at a time when art and learning institutions everywhere are not accessible. Curators and content contributors include Global Nomads, Global Oneness, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Commffest, KIDS FIRST!, Dream a Dream Foundation, OddWorld Inhabitants, Psyon Games, Challenge 59, LXL Ideas, Alliance for Young Artists & Writers/Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Creative Visions Foundation, Battery Dance, SIMA Classroom, Young Voices for the Planet, Bard Conservatory, Taking It Global, Materials for the Arts, Book Creator, XTalks, NFFTY, Young People’s Chorus of New York City, The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace, Ryan Wong Classroom, The Global Search for Education, Voice America, Rocketium and Brandartica. Young people from around the world played a significant role in conceptualizing, creating, and producing the network’s vision and programming.

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The Martha Graham Dance Company has been a leader in the development of contemporary dance since its founding in 1926. Since its inception, the Company has received international acclaim from audiences in more than 50 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Russia, and the Middle East. The Company has performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House, Covent Garden, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as at the base of the Great Pyramids in Egypt and in the ancient Herod Atticus Theatre on the Acropolis in Athens. In addition, the Company has also produced several award-winning films broadcast on PBS and around the world.