Paper #3 on Dance

Watch this film of “Lamentation,” coreographed by Martha Graham in 1930. It begins with her reminiscence, followed by a performance of the dance.
Write about the dance. Answer, most broadly, the two questions we have been working with: What story does the dance tell? and How does the dance tell that story.
Base your analysis (as in all our papers) on your own observation, on your own questions that arise out of your repeated viewing, based on details that raise questions. Your analysis (and it may have several parts) will be your answer(s) to the questions. You may want to consider some of the following:
What does “lamentation” mean?
Why is most of the dance done on a bench?
Why that kind of costume? How is the dance different than it would have been if she had been wearing a leotard or tutu?
Why the music, that music, that kind of music?
What kinds of feelings and/or thoughts do you have as you watch the dance?
What specific things about the dance make you have those feelings?
Watch carefully and repeatedly. Make notes about meaningful details, about questions that arise out of the details. Answer the questions on the basis of the language of the dance. This is the same process we have followed in analyzing painting and sculpture. Look carefully. Ask good questions. Answer them by interpreting the details/the language of the dance.
As always, reference to any other analysis will result in failure. No secondary work. No biographical work. Just watch the film and write about it.
Write a first draft. Then revise that draft. A third full draft will be full of good ideas, well expressed, if you have paid good attention.


Author: Scott Abbott

Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University, 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I'm Director of the Program in Integrated Studies and former Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade), and translations of a book by Austrian author Peter Handke and of a catalogue of an exhibit called "The German Army and Genocide." More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as a watershed scientist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a corrections officer, as university students, and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett and our yellow dog Blue. Some publications at

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