May O'Donnell
Modern Dance Pioneer

Marian Horosko

Foreword by Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times

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“A welcome appreciation of O'Donnell.”—Publishers Weekly  
“Recommended.”—Library Journal  
“Fascinating.”—New York Times  
“An enjoyable, easy read.”—Dance International Magazine  
“Through Horosko's lively and reverent writing, readers will feel they have met O'Donnell personally from the first paragraph.”—Dancer Magazine
"An important contribution to American dance history. . . . A book tracing [O'Donnell's] long career is long overdue."—George Dorris
"She was one of those rare artists who could make stillness sing."—from the foreword by Jennifer Dunning, New York Times
May O'Donnell (1906-2004) was one of the Martha Graham Contemporary Dance Company's most successful soloists during its pioneer days. Because of her strong presence and equally strong technique, Graham entrusted O'Donnell to create her own roles in such notable Graham works as Appalachian Spring and Heriodiade. As a choreographer, O'Donnell was the first American to create dances of musical abstraction (before such a word was used in the world of dance), freeing the modern dancer from themes, storylines, and dramatic passion. She was also a sought-after teacher, and her famous students include Robert Joffrey, Ben Vereen, Gerald Arpino, Dudley Williams, and many others. Today, more than fifty of her documented works are performed and her technique is taught throughout Europe and the United States.
Based on extensive interviews with O'Donnell herself, Marian Horosko brings the story of this extraordinary yet unheralded sixty-year career to light for the first time. O'Donnell's personal memories-from her early training in California, to tours with Jose Limon, to the creation of her signature work, Suspension, to her collaborations with composer husband Ray Green-and unpublished photographs from her personal archives provide a first-hand account of American modern dance coming into its own during the crucial period of the I920s through the I980s. Horosko has also included the first available intermediate-class syllabus of O'Donnell's technique.
Marian Horosko (1925–2017) danced on Broadway and in Hollywood, was a soloist with the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Ballet, and taught dance at New York's High School for the Performing Arts and at Fordham University. She was the author or editor of numerous books on dance, including Martha Graham: The Evolution of Her Dance Theory and Training and Pas de Deux: A Textbook on Partnering.

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--Library Journal

"an enjoyable, easy read."
--Dance International Magazine

--The New York Times

"Through Horosko's lively and reverent writing, readers will feel they have met O'Donnell personally from the first paragraph."
--Dancer Magazine

"A welcome appreciation of O'Donnell."
--Publishers Weekly

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