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Dr. Martha Libster has been dancing since age 7 and choreographing since age 10 when she and her sister crafted 30 minute dance concerts on their large stage-like porch. She was classically trained in the Denishawn by Mrs. Margot Gillis in Lunenburg, Massachusetts. Mrs. Gillis was trained by Mrs. Marion Rice, a keeper of the Denishawn Dance tradition. The Denishawn, founded by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, includes training in classical ballet (The Denishawn Barre) and numerous ethnic forms of dance. During her 8 years with Mrs. Gillis, Dr. Martha learned, and in some cases performed, classic Denishawn dances such as Soaring.

The Denishawn along with Isadora Duncan are the heritage of American Modern Dance. The Denishawn spawned the careers of such great American dancers as Doris Humphrey, Martha Graham, and Charles Wideman whose works then inspired the creation of others, such as Paul Taylor, Erick Hawkins, Merce Cunningham and Jose Limon. Dr. Martha trained in the 1980's in New York with company members from Hawkins (Nada Diachenko), Cunningham, Taylor, and then with Viola Farber who had been with Cunningham. The Denishawn tradition continues today in the work at Jacob's Pillow in Massachusetts.


In addition to the Denishawn training, Dr. Martha danced original ballets such as "Aquabelle" created by Mrs. Gillis until joining the Northfield Mount Herman Dance Company in 1976 where she trained with Diana Cowles, a dancer who had worked with the Paul Taylor Company. While studying dance education/pre-dance therapy at New York University she danced with the Susan Brody Dance Company. In 1982, she was invited by Ms. Sachiyo Ito to join her inaugural company of traditional Japanese dancers and musicians.

Dr. Martha's Denishawn roots that embrace East and West had come full circle. She choreographed and presented her own works in New York and an off-Broadway musical, The City Suite, composed by a Sondheim protege, all before being called to nursing in 1984. Since then she continues to integrate the spirit, science, and art of dance/movement into her writings and practice in nursing, the healing arts, education, health program design and leadership. She also choreographs for special events including the Global Tea Houses.

More About the History of American Modern Dance