Brock Switzer ’13, a film, television, and theatre (FTT) major in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, began taking dance classes at neighboring Saint Mary’s College during his sophomore year. It was there that he learned of the influence of dancer and choreographer Martha Graham.
“Martha Graham was a great innovator as a dance artist and has sometimes been called the mother of modern dance in America,” says Indi Dieckgrafe, professor of dance at Saint Mary’s College and Switzer’s senior thesis adviser.
Using Graham’s techniques, Switzer planned to choreograph a dance for his senior thesis project. With the help of an American Dream grant from Notre Dame’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, he attended the Summer Intensive program at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in 2013. The Martha Graham School’s Summer and Winter Intensive programs in New York City draw students from around the world for three- to six-week immersions into Martha Graham’s iconic style.
“I’m learning to be more in tune with the spiritual nature of dance and the performance qualities,” says Switzer, “learning how to make dance, and learning Martha’s dances.”
The American Dream grant program supports undergraduate and graduate student research or creative projects on a wide range of topics exploring the American Dream. “Martha Graham was truly an American artist. She had just a passion for exploration and an authenticity,” says Dieckgrafe.
Dieckgrafe adds, “This Martha Graham project was just the perfect thing at the perfect time for this young man in his development as an young artist.”
After completing the Summer Intensive program, Switzer was accepted into the two-year Martha Graham Professional Training program.