Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham in Letter to the World. Photograph by Barbara Morgan. Reproduced with permission of Janet Morgan/The Barbara Morgan Archive. For further information e-mail [email protected]
Performed to music by Hunter Johnson, Letter to the World premiered on August 11, 1940, at the Bennington College Theater, Bennington, Vermont. The work was based on the life of Emily Dickinson, with costumes designed by Edythe Gilfond and a set created by Arch Lauterer. Principal cast members were Graham, Margaret Meredith, Erick Hawkins, Jane Dudley, and members of Graham's Group. Irving Kolodin, writing for the New York Sun (January 21, 1941) noted, "Miss Graham has evolved what might be reasonable described as the first authentically American Ballet." Critic Edwin Denby, writing in Modern Music (March-April 1941) declared, "Much of it is not clear to me after seeing it once. But it contains such astonishing passages one is quite willing to forgive the awkward parts it also has, and remember it is a masterpiece."