Cleveland Modern Dance Association was born in 1956 when a group of local women who had studied dance in college took a master class taught by a member of the Martha Graham Company. It rekindled each woman’s passion for dance and inspired them to start an organization to stimulate interest in the growing art form of modern dance. Led by Lillian Weisberg and Marian Holmes, the group banded together to form an association that would offer dance classes for adults and children along with lecture-performances.
From the start, they aimed high by frequently hiring noted professionals from New York and other cities as teachers. Jose Limon, a modern dance pioneer, whose works and technique strongly influenced Modern dance as we know it today was one of the first. CMDA collaborated with Karamu House and the Cleveland Institute of Music to host Limón’s visit in 1956.
CMDA’s first stage presentation was husband and wife team Emily Frankel and Mark Ryder, whose dance aesthetic came from Ryder’s years with Martha Graham.
Iris Kleinman Feurer