Martha Graham and Sally Rand

Martha Graham and Sally Rand
Miguel Covarrubias's December 1934 "Impossible Interview" in Vanity Fair contrasted the harsh red and sharp angles of modern choreographer Martha Graham with the smooth curves and candy-sweet pink of fan dancer Sally Rand. Corey Ford's accompanying dialogue, however, emphasizes their similarities:

SALLY: Hello, Martha. Still doing the same old intellectual strip-tease?
MARTHA: I beg your pardon, Miss Rand, I do not think we have anything in common
SALLY: Forget it, kid, we're in the same racket, ain't we? Just a couple of little girls trying to wriggle along.
MARTHA: But my dancing is modern-classical-imaginative. If you leave anything to a customer's imagination, it's because he's near-sighted.
SALLY: Sure, I come right out in the open. I put my best points forward.
MARTHA (haughtily): You should learn to bare your soul.
SALLY: Say, I got to keep something covered. . . .
MARTHA: I'm sure you'd be frowned on in the ladies' clubs.
SALLY: And you'd be a flop in a cooch concession, kid. From now on, we'd better split fifty-fifty. You take the ladies, and I'll take the men.

Ford's repartee gently mocks Graham's modernism for its seriousness while endowing Rand's playful allure with a certain legitimacy. Nothing about the fan dancer suggests immorality or even bad taste; she comes across as feisty, funny, and talented. In other words, high art and low, popular culture and the avant-garde merge together in an expression of the new preoccupation with the talented and famous.


Sally Rand 1904-1979 and Martha Graham 1894-1991
Miguel Covarrubias (19041957)
Gouache on paper for Vanity Fair, December 1934
Private collection


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